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World's oldest serviceable fighter jet to fly again

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The world's oldest British fighter jet is taking to the skies once again over England, a treat for air enthusiasts around the world. A Gloster Meteor, Britain's oldest fighter jet, and likely the oldest fighter jet still flying, will grace the skies later this month.

LONDON, ENGLAND (Catholic Online) - While the first jet powered aircraft and fighter jets were German machines, none remain in flyable condition today. The distinction of the world's oldest, servicable aircraft goes to the Gloster Meteor.

Introduced in the summer of 1944, just months after the combat debut of the German Me 262, the Meteor was employed in an interceptor role, shooting down V-1 missiles fired from the Low Countries into Southern England.

Although there jets were employed by all major combatants by the end of the war except Japan, none saw combat against other jets. The first jet vs. jet combat would have to wait until the Korean War several years later occurring on Nov. 1, 1950, between Soviet and American pilots.

By the end of the war, the Meteors saw increasing use in British service and would eventually be exported around the world. Meteors would serve in the active air forces of the world until as late as the 1980s.

A few examples remain airworthy, and a working original in Cornwall will fly to mark the opening of a new air museum at the Newquay Airport, which is itself a former Royal Air Force base.

The craft was excellent and well-liked by its pilots who found the cockpit to be quieter than their piston engine counterparts. Originally developed as a single-seat fighter, the craft was soon produced in new variants including a two-seat version and follow-up models with more powerful engines.

The jet is an icon of the Royal Air Force, almost as much beloved and recognized as the Hurricane and Spitfire forebears which it replaced.

The jet will fly again on March 29 at the Newquay Airport.

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