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Slingsby T67 Firefly

Slingsby T67 Firefly

Okay, let’s take a look at the Slingsby T67 Firefly. It’s an aerobatic aircraft two-seater originally produced as the Fournier RF-6, a British built aircraft in Kirbymoreside Yorkshire, England. It was successfully used in the UK Armed forces and claim to fame, it was the aircraft Prince Harry first did his solo flight in! 

The Royal Air Force used 22 Slingsby T67M as their basic trainer between 1995 and 2010. It was also used by other military training schools around the world, including the Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force and the Royal Jordanian Air Force. It is regarded as a good military trainer and aerobatic aircraft, although the Americans might disagree with you more on that coming up…

Tom Cassells has and flies a Slingsby Firefly, and he is a British aerobatic champion. The Slingsby, if designated with an ‘M’, is a military variant of the aircraft. The Slingsby T67M was one of the most produced, along with the T-3A variant which is actually very similar. All in all, across all the different variants, there was a total off 250 aircraft that have been built. 

Some stats on the aircraft, then:

Crew: 2

Empty weight: 1,750 lb 794kg

Max. takeoff weight: 2,550 lb 1,157kg

Powerplant: single 260hp Textron Lycoming AEIO-540-D 6-cylinder horizontally-opposed engine

Never exceed speed: 195 knots 224mph

Maximum speed: 152 knots 175mph

Cruise speed: 140 knots 161mph

Stall speed: 54 knots 62mph (with flaps)

Range: 407 nm 468m 753 km

Service ceiling: 19,000 ft

Rate of climb: 1,380 ft/min 

Okay, let’s go over the variants: 

The very 1st being the RF-6B, which was the 1st built. It was built with a Rolls Royce Continental engine with 100 horsepower. 43 of these were built, and it was the foreigner to the Slingsby T67. 

Slingsby then bought the development rights to the RF-6B, and then they renamed it the Slingsby T67A. First flown on the 5th of December 1982 and certified on the 2nd of August 1983. Originally designed as a glass-reinforced plastic aircraft for military training.

The T67M had a 160hp fuel-injected engine and ended with a two-blade Hoffman constant-speed propeller with a single piece canopy and a fuel-injected engine with inverted fuel and oil systems which allowed the aircraft to perform sustained negative G. But inverted spins were never actually formally approved, thankfully, because they would probably make me feel queasy. 

After the T67M, it was time for the T67B first flown on 16th of April 1981 and certified on the 18th September 1984. The T67B was effectively the T67A but with glass fibre reinforced plastic without the upgraded engine and propeller of the M series. They have 118hp engine and a 2 blade fix prop. They made a total of 14 T67Bs.

Back to the military variants now, the T67M MkII Firefly, certified on the 20th of December 1985 had a fuel-injected 160hp Engine and a two-blade constant speed prop with inverted fuel and oil systems for military training, which, of course, means the military pilots were lucky enough to experience those negative G’s! This was the first variant that actually replaced the single-piece canopy with a two-piece design and a single large fuselage fuel tank with two larger tanks in the wings. After this, it was time for more power. 

Certified on the 19th of June 1987 the T67M200 Firefly was produced with a 200hp engine and a three-blade Hoffman prop, again with inverted fuel and oil systems as the military needs. A total of 26 of these T67M200s were produced 

Back to the civilian Firefly, the T67C Firefly certified on the 15th of December 1987. This was the last of the civilian variants based on the T67B with an increased 160hp engine, but without the fuel-injected inverted flight systems found on the M series. So I’m sorry. Civilians less negative g for you, but at least you get to hold on to your lunch. 

Okay, now we’re going beast mode for the Firefly. The T67M260 certified on the 11th of November 1993. This had a six-cylinder, 260 horsepower engine again with a three-blade constant speed propeller. These were used to train hundreds of RAF and British Army and other foreign Commonwealth pilots through their flight training school right up until 2010. A total of 51 of these were created. 

Then the T67M260-T3A Firefly certified on 15th December 1993 was the last military version and completely bought by the United States Air Force. They bought 114 of these and because the T67M260-T3A Firefly is quite a mouthful, they just call it the T-3A. So what’s the difference between T-3A and a T67M260? Well, it was the addition of air conditioning because it does get pretty hot over in the States, obviously wasn’t needed in the UK. 

I don’t think the Americans were too happy with this purchase because they decided to scrap the whole idea After buying 114 after three unfortunate and fatal accidents and one engine failure. They decided to ground the fleet in 1997 and then stored them without maintenance. When looking to reinstate them they decided they were no longer airworthy and destroyed them in 2006. What a shame that this 114 of them were the best version of the Slingsby Firefly and unfortunately, now all destroyed! After investigations. The United States Air Force eventually attributed to the accidents primarily down to pilot error rather than the aircraft. This is a real shame, a shame that so many great variants of the Slingsby Firefly were destroyed. There are many Slingsby Fireflys on the market today, owned by civilians. It is actually possible to buy one. As I mentioned at the start of this video, Tom Cassells a British aerobatic champion who regularly flies his Slingsby Firefly still doing aerobatics in it. 

So in brief, that is the Slingsby T67 Firefly, and to be honest, I want one! I hope you enjoyed this blog. If you’re looking for a T67 Firefly for sale please check out, www.FindAircraftForSale.com.  That concludes the Slingsby T67 Firefly. Happy flying

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