History of WG430
WG430 was built at the Broughton Aircraft Factory, Wales during 1951. According to RAF records (Form 4801), de Havilland Chipmunk DHC1 Mark T.10 serial number C1-0504 first flew on 19th October 1951. The UK Royal Air Force registration assigned was WG430, and initial service was with Number 3 BFTS (Basic Flying Training School) at RAF Burnaston in Derby (UK). Number 3 BFTS used WG430 to train RAF Volunteer Reserves until 10th June 1953, at which time WG430 was passed to the Bristol University Air Squadron at Filton for summer flying. On 17th August 1953, WG430 had accumulated 723 hours and was moved to RAF Cosford to spend time in storage and have a new engine fitted by Number 9 Maintenance Unit. WG430 came out of storage and went to RAF 12 Group Headquarters at RAF Newton on 2nd April 1954 and then to 12 Group 'C Flight' on 11th August 1961, based at RAF Horsham St Faith. Much of the flying done by WG430 at RAF Newton during the 1960's was Air Experience flights for RAF Air Cadets.
On 18th March 1965, WG430 was refitted with a glider tow hook and joined another 30 Chipmunks to tow gliders for that years World Gliding Championships at RAF South Cerney (won by J Wroblewski of Poland in a Foka 4 sailplane in Open Class and F Henry of France in a Edelweiss sailplane in Standard Class). On 31st January 1966, WG430 moved to Hull University Air Squadron, based at RAF Leconfield, and then to RAF Central Flying School at RAF Little Rissington on 18th October 1966. On 14th September 1967, WG430 returned to Bristol University Air Squadron. By this time, the Chipmunk had flown 3,311 hours.
For the next few years, WG430 was passed from RAF squadron to RAF squadron, and was mainly used for summer camp flying with various University Air Squadrons. Full details for this period are: 18th October 1967 to RAF Little Rissington, 1st September 1969 to London University Air Squadron at RAF White Waltham, 9th February 1970 back to RAF Little Rissington, 18th December 1970 to RAF Marham, 23rd June 1971 to RAF West Malling, 16th July 1971 back to RAF Marham, 10th August 1972 to RAF Church Fenton, and then back again to RAF Marham on 31st August 1972 before posting to RAF Coltishall on 5th April 1973.
Historical RAF flight log records held by the current owner begin in August 1973, when WG430 was used as a tailwheel currency resource for the pilots of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, then stationed at RAF Coltishall. Total hours flown by this time were recorded as 5,084hrs. Records then show a move to RAF Culdrose and RAF Abingdon with Number 6 AEF (Air Experience Flight) until being loaned to the Royal Navy in 1974 for training purposes at HMS Daedalus (RNAS Lee On Solent). Later in 1974, WG430 resumed an RAF training role with Cambridge University Air Squadron before entering storage for another five years. It was at this time that the paint scheme was changed from silver with yellow bands on the wings and rear section to the current RAF Training Command "Raspberry Ripple" paint scheme by Number 5 Maintenance Unit at RAF Kemble. Early in 1979, WG430 moved for a short time to RAF Scampton before finally landing at RAF Manston, with Number 1 AEF on 8th May 1979 (5,557 hours). It was at RAF Manston that WG430 would spend the bulk of the last fifteen years of its RAF service. While at Number 1 AEF, a distinctive emblem was painted on the forward fuselage, depicting an grey elephant on a green background. The reason was due to a well used local route used to give Air Cadets experience flights during the 1980's. The route would turn over Howletts Wild Animal Park, which was easy to identify from the air as the large grey elephants stood out well on the green grass enclosures. Number 1 AEF also painted a large orange number 3 on the tail for easy identification, using the second to last digit of the registration to determine aircraft number. Luckily, both the original elephant emblem and identification number remain on WG430 today.
Although WG430 spent the most time at RAF Manston, the logbooks show brief appearances at RAF Cranwell (1980), RAF Wattisham (1980), RAF Honington (1981) RAF Coltishall (1984/85), RAF Cranwell (1988), RAF Valley (1990) and Boscombe Down (1991). WG430 also flew to Roanne France as a glider tow aircraft for the Inter-Services Regional Gliding Championships each year from 1987 to 1990. Almost all maintenance was carried out at Hurn (Bournemouth) Airport by Airwork Services. WG430 would stay with Number 1 AEF until RAF retirement in 1996, 45 years after beginning service at RAF Burnaston. Total airframe time at retirement was 11,778 hours with 33,186 landings recorded. Unfortunately, RAF Burnaston is now a Toyota car factory.
In civilian hands, WG430 was sold at auction in 1996 at RAF Newton and was dismantled and shipped to Canada (Bredin, Alberta). In July 1998, WG430 was registered by Transport Canada as C-GBNM. In October 1998, WG430 was sold to a new owner in the United States and was re-registered N430WG. WG430 remained in storage until 2002 in Shelbyville, Indiana, when assembly and test flights began. A Special Airworthiness allowing display of this historic aircraft was granted by the FAA in 2004, with total hours of 11,813. In 2005, the Gipsy Major 10 engine had just under 2,000 hours recorded since first installation by the RAF at Hurn in 1995, and so was completely overhauled. In 2007, WG430 was sold to three partners based in Pennsylvania, and was operated from Van Sant Airfield for the next eleven years. A complete fabric recovering of the wings, elevator, ailerons and rudder was carried out by George Taylor (Old School Aviation) in 2009.
The current owner, Steve Randall, purchased WG430 in November 2018 (12,241 hours), 32 years after taking his first flight in another RAF Chipmunk, WD373 of Number 2 AEF, at Hurn Airport. WG430 was flown 2,200 miles from Van Sant, Pennsylvania to a new home at Thermal, California in April 2019 by Steve, stopping at 22 airports along the way. Steve is a captain on the Airbus A320, whose wings are built at the same factory where WG430 was originally built. Between July 2019 and January 2020, WG430 received an extensive inspection by West Coast Air Creations of Riverside, California, to check for corrosion and fatigue issues. This Chipmunk was found to be in great shape and many components were replaced to ensure WG430 can continue safe flight for many decades to come. A new discrete radio, transponder and ADS-B system was also installed. WG430 will be displayed at various airshows and aviation events to promote education and encourage continued enjoyment of this historic aircraft for many years to come.