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Fri, Feb 11, 2011

Folland Gnat Jet Donated To Spirit Of Flight

One Of Only 105 Ever Built

In 1955, the Folland Aircraft Company flew the compact Gnat T Mk. 1 aircraft for the first time to great praise by the RAF test pilots and development team that included one pilot for India. The tiny jet was evaluated by the RAF as a possible replacement to the DeHavilland Venom, but lost out to the Hawker Hunter. Rather than be used as a fighter, the RAF used the Gnat as a trainer, but it was most notable as the aircraft used by the Red Arrows demonstration team.

Folland Gnat

The Gnat did see service as a fighter, known as the F.1 with the Indian Air Force and has been credited with shooting down seven Pakistani Canadair Sabre jets (license built F-86) during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. The Gnat received the nickname of "Sabre Slayer."
Thanks to the generosity of a donor, the Spirit of Flight Center near Denver, Colorado now has a "Sabre Slayer", Gnat XP513, and it will soon be on display with the goal to get the plane back in the air for the general public to enjoy. "I have always admired the Gnat and how maneuverable it is," said Spirit of Flight Center President Gordon Page. "I have flown one and you really need to be on your game because of how quick it is."

Gnat Red Arrows With Concorde

Only 105 Gnats were built and used by the UK, India, Finland and Yugoslavia. Today, there are only a handful of airworthy examples in the United States and United Kingdom. "A lot of people recognize the Folland Gnat, but many don't know that it was used as the fictional Navy fighter flown by the Americans in the movie Hot Shots," said Gordon Page. "We will have an original poster from the 1991 movie near the Gnat to remind everyone."

Gnat In Restoration

The Spirit of Flight Center is looking for donations to help get the plane back in the air. Anyone looking to help "Save a Gnat" is encouraged to contact the Spirit of Flight Center.



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