AVRO SHACKLETON WR963
The Return to Flight
The Shackleton Aviation Group was formed around core members of the old Shackleton Preservation Trust which owned WR963 after its sale by Air Atlantique.
Its aim is the preservation, maintenance and operation of Avro Shackleton WR963 in taxying condition, with the intent to return it to flight.
We still actively recruit volunteers, who form a crucial part of our team. Many are from military backgrounds, indeed some still serve. We are signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant and currently hold the Armed Forces Employer Recognition Scheme Bronze Award.
A Brief History
1954 - 1991
WR963 was part of the second - and last - batch of Avro Shackleton MR2 built by Avro; the famous company that built the legendary Lancaster. Racking up an impressive 15,483 flying hours over a 37 year period spanning the globe; WR963 was rebuilt no less than three times.
Serving with 224, 210, 38 and 205 Sqn, the later and larger part of service was as an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) platform with 8 Sqn, operating out of RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
1991 - 2012
In 1991 David Liddell-Grainger, under the name of the 'Shackleton Preservation Trust', purchased two Shackletons at a Sotheby's Defence Auction and had them delivered to Coventry Airport where ownership, maintenance and operation was taken on by Air Atlantique.
Air Atlantique was the perfect choice - a company legendary in the UK for operation of the fleet of DC3 and DC6 aircraft as well as the Classic Flight which comprised several smaller piston types and Cold War jets.
Air Atlantique tried hard to return a Shackleton to the UK skies but were foiled at every try, eventually resorting to sending one aircraft (WL790) out to the USA, where it flew until 2009 and remains to this day. WR963 remained at Coventry.
1997 - 2016
The Shackleton Preservation Trust (SPT) was a Charity created by David Liddell-Grainger, to operate the two Shackletons he purchased under this name. Although there are several references to the Trust in 1990/91 it wasn't actually an entity or charity until 1993. It maintained close links with Air Atlantique and supported their work but by the late 1990 after WL790 had departed to the USA it had become virtually dormant.
The SPT enjoyed a revival when Sqn Ldr (ret) John Cubberley formed a new group to take care of the Shackleton, initially as the 'Atlantique Avro Shackleton Support Group', then later as the renewed SPT.
WR963 went from strength to strength and over a period of time enjoyed a brief outing on Coventry's runway which had her fast taxying to the point of flight; and then a few years later out on the taxiway in front of several thousand people for a farewell event to Vulcan XH558.
2016 - present
In late 2016 various factors affected the running of SPT, and it rapidly became unviable for it to operate WR963 and to meet charitable objectives. A new way was needed.
Long-time volunteer and SPT Trustee David Woods had acquired WR963 from Air Atlantique in 2009 and after a period of consultation with other volunteers and with some other Shackleton groups it was decided a Community Interest Company (CIC) needed to be formed to continue the work.
The Shackleton Aviation Group (SAG) was formed, and while business as usual seems to be the way with the aircraft, in that running and taxying are the plan - a ground up approach has been taken with regards to the support structure, paving a way to returning a Shackleton to UK skies once more.
However, it soon became clear that the CIC was not the best way to ensure WR963’s future, so in early 2020, SAG ceased to be a CIC and became an “Unincorporated Association”.
The last time WR963 got airborne was 9 July 1991. The most recent Shackleton flight was December 2009, in the USA.
Help us to ensure it's not the last