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Duration 04:57

Streaked Lightning

In the Royal Air Force (RAF) recruitment film ‘Streaked Lightning’, we see a Lightning jet demonstrating why it once held the world air-speed record.

As an all-weather interceptor, the Lightning was a supersonic aircraft that boasted a performance better than any other aircraft at that time. The twin-engine single-seat fighter was designed to engage with fast, high-altitude Russian bombers armed with nuclear weapons before they reached the British coast.

Built by English Electric, the Lightning survived the 1957 Defence White Paper (unlike numerous other British aircraft projects that were scrapped). Presented by Conservative Defence Minister Duncan Sandys, the infamous White Paper marked a significant change in British defence policy. As defence spending concentrated on nuclear weapons and developing new missile technology, the days of manned aircraft seemed numbered.

Entering service with the RAF in July 1960 as an ‘interim solution’, the aircraft was eventually retired in 1988 after 28 years. With the capability to achieve altitudes in excess of 85,000 feet and a top speed of Mach 2.2 (1500 mph) the Lightning was one of the fastest aircraft ever to be operated by the RAF.


Air Traffic Control: Tiger seven four take off, tiger seven four clear take off.

Voice:  Want to fly a Lightning, want to occupy the single seat in the single seater, all weather, night and day, highflying supersonic, supernormal Lightning?

Air Traffic Control: Target now ninety five miles, heading two five zero, what is your flight level?

Pilot: Tiger seven four climbing through flight level three zero zero.

Air Traffic Control: Tiger seven four, your target is flight level four five zero, speed mark one point two.

Voice: Want to climb two Everests in three minutes?

Ground Control: Pigeons two five zero.

Voice: Want to be the intelligence behind the radar, that feeds the brain, that guides the missile?

Want to fly a Lightning?

Want to fly the world’s best fighter, want to see the night close around you and not care?

Want to land a lightning?

Want to fly a lightning and take your own thunder with you?

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