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Constructors number P50/46 was built as a Percival P.50 Prince 3E (short nose version) at Luton, and was the third from last civil Prince to be built. The last of an order for 5 placed by Shell Refining and Marketing Ltd (G-AMKK & G-AMLW to 'LZ). Although registered G-AMLZ on 23.11.51, the first Certificate of Airworthiness was not issued until 14th November 1952, with delivery the same month. At this time Douglas Bader was one of Shell's corporate pilots, so it is almost certain that he flew G-AMLZ during the year and half of Shell's ownership.
In July 1954 it was sold to Winston F. Martin (of the Martin family, as in Martin Baker Ltd) and based at Tollerton and Leicester East. After just under two years the aircraft was sold again in May 1956. Also during 1956 the aircraft's engines were modified, the aircraft becoming a Prince 4E and at some stage the aircraft was allocated the registration VR-TBN in Tanganyika, East Africa - but was never taken up. (VR-TBN was actually used on another Prince 3E, C/no P.48 ex G-AMPR of Standard Motors, cancelled from the UK register 11.55), so it is possible that the allocation of the serial to P.46 G-AMLZ was a bureaucratic mix-up in the paper work.
In May 1956 G-AMLZ was sold and purchased by Stewart, Smith & Co. Ltd. (alternatively Stewart Smith & Co Ltd) and initially based at Blackbushe, later moving to Heathrow. In December 1958 the engines were uprated again, the aircraft becoming a Prince 6E in the process. Engineering maintenance was contracted to British Eagle and undertaken initially at Heathrow and later at Liverpool in No.1 hangar.
Traced visits to Liverpool during this period include:
2nd March 1957 from & to Blackbushe
2nd March 1964 from Heathrow, at Liverpool until 26th March '64
27th March 1965 from & to Heathrow
11th April 1967 from Heathrow for a C of A Check, returned to Heathrow 1st August 1967
24th May 1968 again from & to Heathrow
and a visit into Hawarden for Chester Races 8th May 1962.
After 12 years with Stewart, Smith & Co, she was sold in September 1968 to Timothy M. Clutterbuck and based at Leavesden. His use of the aircraft ended March 1971 and it was flown to Coventry, presumably awaiting sale. The C of A expired 18.6.71 and the registration subsequently cancelled by the CAA 18.1.73. With many second-hand, modern twins available, the future looked bleak for a dated twenty year old radial old lady, at a time before 'heritage' types could earn their keep on the air show circuit.
However, G-AMLZ was purchased by Coventry based John F. Coggins who operated a number of aviation concerns. The initial plan was to return 'LZ to the air as part of his City Airways pleasure flying operation, joining his Percival Prentice. G-AMLZ was restored to the Register on 23.10.73. However this plan never came to fruition, so G-AMLZ became an external exhibit with the Aircraft Radio Museum - another John Coggins Coventry operation. As an aside to this tale, MSAE members may recall the large box radio (from Proctor G-AIAA) that did sterling service in the Hangar 50 clubroom in the days before transistor sets - this also became an exhibit with the Radio Museum. On 9.10.84 the registration was cancelled by the CAA as 'permanently withdrawn from use'. The aircraft sat at Coventry throughout the '80s.
After over 20 years of standing out in the open at Coventry, during 1994 the aircraft was purchased by the Coventry based Air Atlantique Group and surveyed with an eye to restoration to airworthy condition. Perhaps not too suprisingly the rebuild was not proceeded with, and with the help of 29(F) Sqdn ATC, she was dismantled early in 1995 to save space.
In February 1997 fortunes apparently changed as 'LZ was transported to Caernarfon Airfield and re-assembled soon after for display with Caernarfon Air World Museum. A 1998 repaint replaced the Stewart, Smith & Co dark blue and white scheme with a simplified scheme in a lighter shade of blue. However, for the next 10 years she was effectively abandoned in a compound beside the Museum, as the Prince did not fit any of the themes inside. Salt laden seaside air and winter Irish Sea storms began to take their toll. The wheels were filled with concrete in an attempt to prevent further storm damage.
Although offered for sale, the price was high considering the deteriorating condition she was in. In September 2007, with the compound she was in designated for new hangars, a process of cutting her up for a move indoors began. Horrified that the last remaining civil Prince was being cut-up (as against dismantled), in an eleventh hour rescue the Jetstream Club stepped in and dismantled her properly and transported her by road for indoor storage with the RAF Millom Museum in Cumbria on 5th October 2007. After initial work at Millom, G-AMLZ was on the move again a year later, being transported to Liverpool by road on 23rd November 2008 and delivered onto the former airport apron behind the Crow
Here is my room at the Holiday Inn Express at Luton Airport. It was small, but clean and new. The beds were rather crappy - very springy and rather hard. It was a short walk to the airport terminal, perfect for my 6:00am check-in. A small Marks & Spencer just opened in the terminal, so I was able to pick up all sorts of yummy delicious foods for dinner. The internet was very expensive, but overall I was pleased with the room.
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