Sat on a patch of grass at Gatwick Airport , you would probably not look twice at the mould-covered shell of this plane. But while it has been left there unloved for a number of years, the Handley Page Herald G-CEXP was once at the forefront of British aviation and is now one of only four left in the world. The plane has special significance for our Chairman, Neil Taylor, who project managed the lifting of this plane onto the roof of the Gatwick Airport viewing gallery back in 1994.

XP, as the plane is also known, first took to the air from Radlett in Hertfordshire on April 5, 1968 and after a prolific aviation career settled at Gatwick Airport in 1994. It was first used for training before later becoming a visitor attraction, as it sat atop the roof of the South Terminal so it could be seen from the viewing terraces. But when the terraces closed it was relocated and it ended up under the ownership of Gatwick Airport Fire Service, and it has remained in a corner of the airport since then.

The aircraft will celebrate its 50th birthday on April 5 but is facing being scrapped if the UK Heritage Aviation Trust (UKHAT) can’t secure £15,000 of funds to pay for it to be moved to a new site because it can no longer stay where it is.

Duncan Halford, chairman of the group of UKHAT running the fundraiser, said: “There are only four left in the whole world. She’s an early British airliner with a well-known history. We’re in the early stages of the fundraiser but we should know soon when we will need to move her by. She’s been sat in the spot she’s in for over ten years and the elements would have got to her.”

The £15,000 target is based on the estimate to disassemble the plane and moving it to a location which has not yet been decided.

The long-term goal is to restore it so it is the only one of the remaining four that is able to move, although it will never actually be able to take to the skies again. Mr Halford said: “The other three are all hangar queens [when aircraft is put on display in a museum] or dead aircraft. We are hoping to get our one live again. She’ll never be able to fly again but we want to get her moving on the runway; maybe even ferrying people around wherever she ends up.”

However the fire service can no longer accommodate it, which is why UKHAT has stepped in to rescue it. It would be a shame for this rare plane to rot in a corner of Gatwick Airport. Any support you could give would be much appreciated.

You can donate to the fundraiser at