Royal approval for Shorts restoration

Work to restore an historic plane at Rochester Airport has been given the royal seal of approval.

Medway Aircraft Preservation Society Ltd (MAPSL) received a visit from its patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to view the progress of its painstaking restoration of a rare Scion Floatplane that was built by Rochester aviation pioneers the Short Brothers and first flown in 1937.

The work is supported by the Rochester Bridge Trust, which awarded the society a grant of £40,000 in 2013.

During a tour of MAPSL’s newly-opened hangar and workshop at Rochester Airport, the Duchess was able to view the restored and reassembled structure of the plane’s fuselage and tail section as well as its engine and one of its two floats. Since first visiting the organisation in 2010 – when she was given the honorary title of ‘MAPS Chap’ – she has taken a keen interest in its work, and is now its patron.

With work on the starboard wing now mostly complete, restoration of the port wing will soon commence. Once the structural work on the main body of the aircraft is largely over, the focus will switch to starting to apply a fabric covering and the construction of a second float.

Andrew Freeman, Operations & Grants Manager at the Rochester Bridge Trust, said: “This rare seaplane, which was built 85 years ago on Rochester Esplanade, was last seen flying in 1963 and thereafter was left to deteriorate. I am delighted that more than half a century later it is being carefully restored to its original glory by the talented volunteers at MAPSL.

“I congratulate them on the royal recognition they continue to receive and also on their move to new premises.”


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