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Michael Oliver purchases Tornado as part of his automobile and plane collection
A KNUTSFORD businessman has added to his collection of fast cars, helicopters and planes with a Tornado fighter jet.
Father and son Michael and Mark Oliver, from Oliver Valves Ltd, purchased the Tornado GR1 aircraft, which was part of the RAF’s 15 Squadron.
And 44-year-old Mark is delighted to have added a unique piece of British engineering to the collection.
“It’s very rare to get one of these and this would be on its way to Australia had we not stepped in to get it. We wanted to be able to keep it in the UK,” explained the company’s deputy chairman.
“It’s interesting because it a GR1 first mark. It’s a really brilliant piece of British engineering.
“We’ve moved our engineering unit over to the hangar, as it’s a bit of an inspiration for the engineers when they are working near it.”
Planes from 15 Squadron crossed to France in December 1915, were used in the Second World War and were only disbanded after the Gulf War in 1993.
The twin-seat, twin-engine aircraft is supersonic at all altitudes and took two days to rebuild on its arrival in Knutsford.
“It’s got amazing contact history. A pilot of 21 years old was shot down with his crew and apparently his last words were ‘he just hit me. I’m sorry to say they got us’.
“The Americans had nothing like it and the French had something, but it didn’t work!”
The aircraft was dispatched to Bahrain as part of the 15 Squadron’s deployment for Operation Granby in Desert Storm missions to liberate Kuwait.
It displayed sand pink camouflage with nose art depicting an old lady on a Zimmer frame and was nicknamed ‘Zimmer Woman’ by the ground crew.
And Mark likens the purchase to that of the pair’s First World War Harrier aircraft, which will be on display in the Imperial War Museum North next year for the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
“It’s a lot like with the Harrier,” he explained.
“The only other person to own one is Sir John Dyson, and probably for the same reason that it’s just such great British engineering.
“The Harrier would probably be in the States now if we hadn’t bought it. There’s an essence of engineering excellence which I enjoy.
“It gets a lot of interest. We have charity days and it’s absolutely great to be able to open it up for events like that.”
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