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G-CEXP Handley Page HPR7 Herald 209 Gatw

Photo © David Reeves

G-CEXP was the fortieth production Herald leaving the production line at Radlett as a Mk.209. Originally ordered by Arkia of Israel, she made her first flight from Radlett on April 5, 1968 being delivered five days later as 4X-AHO.


In March 1978 she was purchased by Express Air Freight (EAF) and arrived back in the UK on March 30, 1978 being placed on the UK register as G-BFRJ. Express Air Freight (later Express Air Services) was a subsidiary of East Midlands Airport based Field Aircraft Services and during their ownership G-BFRJ flew on lease with Air Ecosse and Channel Express. In March 1984 Fields sold her to Italian operator Societa Columbia and she was placed on the Italian register as I-ZERC. From October 1985 Columbia leased her to another Italian operator, Aliguilia, the lease coming to an end in July 1986 when Aliguilia went bankrupt. Purchased back by Fields for onward sale, she returned to East Midlands Airport in early August 1986 where she sat for almost a year awaiting a buyer.


In October 1987 she was sold to Channel Express being re-registered G-CEXP. She then served Channel Express for nine years until making her last flight from Bournemouth to Gatwick on March 8, 1996 logging a total of 32,447 flights at retirement. Donated to the airport by Channel Express for use on the main terminal viewing terrace and converted to a walk through exhibit, she was craned onto the viewing terrace night of March 26, 1996. She spent seven years on the viewing terrace being removed upon its closure on September 10, 2003.

Thankfully the airport was keen not to see her broken up and the Fire Service took on custodianship. After sitting in a number of locations she has for a few years now been left at a spot in the North Western end of the airfield close to the Fire Service's training rig. In 2017 a newly formed organisation, UK Heritage Aviation Trust (UKHAT), stated their intentions to try and save G-CEXP but to date, for a variety of reasons, they have been unsuccessful and she still currently sits at Gatwick, her future a little uncertain. 

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