Urgent appeal – help to save historic British Air Cushion Craft

Britten Norman CC7 Cushion Craft of the Isle of Wight

Britten Norman CC7 Cushion Craft of the Isle of Wight

Wight Aviation Museum (WAM) has launched an urgent appeal to raise enough money to save an historic British Cushion Craft from being sold abroad. Originally built on the Isle of Wight at St. Helens, on the shores of Bembridge Harbour, this particular hovercraft is at risk of leaving the UK to an overseas buyer at auction in January. Read the full appeal below with details of how you can donate and help to keep this British invention where it belongs. Here!

Can you help us save a historic British Air Cushion vehicle from ending up overseas?

Hello, I am John Kenyon Chair of Trustees of Wight Aviation Museum, a UK registered charity and we are URGENTLY appealing for your help to rescue an important part of the Hovercraft story on the Isle of Wight. We are asking for donations to rescue an original Cushioncraft CC7 built here at St Helen’s Duver.

We need to raise around £15000 to cover the purchase, transportation and refurbishment of the Cushioncraft, which we will bring to the Island so the museum can put the craft on display to the public at Sandown Airport. Additionally we would like to use the skills and knowledge of those that were originally involved in its production who are still here and able to assist us.

Warwick Jacobs, Hovercraft Trust trustee.

Warwick Jacobs, Hovercraft Trust trustee. Copyright Anne Grant.

The reason for the urgent request is the unexpected availability of the craft. We had a call from Warwick Jacobs, who founded the world’s first Hovercraft museum in 1986. He said “My first thought was this naturally belongs on the Isle of Wight, paying tribute to the work of Britten Norman!” And our Trustees agreed!

We have to act quickly if we are to secure this icon of engineering excellence for British aviation heritage as it is highly likely this will be sold off to a potential buyer from overseas at auction in January.

Please donate now as much or as little as you can afford to return this Cushioncraft to the Island where it was made. This will be a fitting tribute to those who worked at St Helens and later went on to manufacture a wide range of hovercraft that continued right up its transfer to Griffon Hoverwork in 2008.

Finally should we not be successful in raising the total sum needed we guarantee that all money donated will be placed into restricted funds and will be used only to purchase further acquisitions for the museum.

For all those contributing to this appeal we will keep you posted with our newsletter so you can see the progress being made by our volunteers and members just email us at  wightaviationmuseum@gmail.com

Here is a bit more about the history of the CC7 Cushioncraft…….

Britten Norman Cushion Craft

Britten Norman Cushion Craft. Courtesy of Mark William.

In 1960 Britten-Norman Ltd began trials of their new “Cushioncraft” —their name for an air-cushion vehicle built which needed to be” flown” above the terrain. It was used initially to assess the potential of this type of vehicle for the carriage of bananas from plantations in the Southern Cameroons. Together with its associated company, Crop Culture (Aerial) Ltd, Britten-Norman studied the potential for the Cushioncraft in many different countries. These investigations revealed the possibility of a break-through market in transportation techniques by the use of air cushion vehicles which could accelerate the pace of development in territories where roads are non-existent and costly to build and where rivers are seasonally unnavigable. A very similar concept to that used to promote the BN Islander’s “Land Rover “capabilities in the air, and still in service today, all across the Globe. Cushioncraft was eventually sold to The British Hovercraft Corporation in 1972.

Remember too marine skills were used to develop the first aircraft and it was aviation skills that were used to develop Cushioncraft using reverse engineering concepts which is why the first hovercraft were flown….. by pilots!

If you need convincing about the unique importance of this craft that demonstrates vividly how aviation skills can be used to advantage in Land, Sea and Air applications, take a look at this Pathe News clip on our appeal pages on https://mydonate.bt.com/events/wightaviationmuseum/479553

Do please make a donation on line by credit or debit card its very quick and easy and you can do so anonymously if you prefer, but if you can accept your donation to be gift aided, this will benefit the charity by an extra 25%. BT does not take a penny out of your donation. They only charge us a card processing fee of 15p. For a Donation of £10 we get £12.35.

So thank you for helping us to conserve and display this important part of the Isle of Wight’s Aviation Heritage. You can find more on our website at www.wightaviationmuseum.org.uk