Peter Kirkpatrick is a Consultant Neurosurgeon and has been in the post for the last 32 years, specialising in Neurovascular surgery. Peter is also an enthusiast aircraft pilot, who has been deeply involved in the restoration of a Mark I Hawker Hurricane V7497 aeroplane.
Peter not only flies the aircraft , but is also recreating a part of the Battle of Britain’s history for the educational and cultural benefit of future generations.
Now the restoration has been completed, funding and support is crucial, and Peter is now calling for all those interested in supporting the project to reach out and help be a part of this tremendously inspiring project in order to recreate history for the future.
V7497 was flown by Flying Officer Rogers when the aircraft was felled by three Me109s. He parachuted to survive and served for Bomber Command. The aircraft came down heavily and was buried, that is the reason why many original parts appear in the restoration.
The opportunity of becoming involved in a Battle of Britain Warbird project came about fortuitously following a telephone conversation between Peter and Tony Ditheridge of Hawker Restoration Ltd. Tony, traditionally a tool maker, setup the Company on the back of his historical Car restoration business, using the same skills applied to aeroplane. He tooled himself up and has had a hand in restoring the majority of the 11 or so Hurricanes flying today. He had kept back a special project for himself, a Mark I Battle of Britain serving Hurricane (V7497), out of Kenley Aerodrome (Squadron 501), which was shot down over Kent on 29th September 1940, having only been in service since the 24th September; a fairly standard duration for fighters at the height of the battle.
Peter observed the evolution of the build over 3 years, an experience he describes as a true privilege. The engineering skills required to put a hurricane together are immense – they could not have made the engineering more complex if they had tried. Indeed, the engineering techniques are so complex that few restorers worldwide can renovate Hurricanes. Over a million individual parts are involved! Peter says that bearing in mind the aircraft, in concept, was on the drawing board in the early 1930’s, only 12 years after the end of the 1st World War, the pace of industrial evolution with respect to aviation is second to none.
Peter’s current ambition is to therefore honour those who put the Hurricane design project together, those who built the aircraft, and of course those who flew in them, many of whom lost their lives.
Currently, Peter is responsible for half the project, with Hawker restoration and one other investor, owning the other half. As you’ll expect these projects are not cheap, and the rebuild cost of circa 2 million, in Peter’s view, belies the 30 thousand hours required to construct her even before one starts to consider the cost of the hardware. He says many items have to be made in a bespoke fashion, one offs, and this is expensive. For example, eight replica Browning machine guns have been manufactured to fit into the wings, providing authenticity for what was a fighter aeroplane. Unfortunately, by law, the restoration project is not allowed to fit genuine guns.
V7497 is now based at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, originally a war time Hurricane base. There, the aircraft will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of members of the public, own in displays, and at special events.
For example, as a medical officer for the Newmarket race course, Peter says they are aiming to display V7497 at their key events, including landing and taxing up the race course at the conclusion of the race day.
Peter Kirkpatrick with Paul Bonhomme
Right – Peter with legendary aviator Paul Bonhomme with V7497 in the background – Paul Bonhomme is a British aerobatics and commercial airliner pilot and owner/race pilot of Team Bonhomme, the World Champions of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, and current Red Bull Air Race World Champion for 2015. Paul will be assisting Peter acquire advanced skills to fly the Hurricane.
Share the passion with Peter and the Hawker Restoration team in this video shot in September 2018