Auster AOP Mk9 - XR244
The first operational AOP Squadron (651 AOP Squadron), formed in August 1941, was initially equipped with the original Taylorcraft/Auster 1, however, these were soon replaced by the Auster 3 with much improved rear vision and performance. In 1944-45 the Auster 3 was replaced by Austers 4 and 5 which were both fitted with the American Lycoming engine. After the war most AOP Squadrons were disbanded and those remaining were re-equipped with Auster 6 as the main AOP aircraft and the Auster 7 as the training equivalent.
The Auster 9 started to replace the Auster 6 in 1956 and continued in service for a further 10 years during which time the AOP Squadrons had been absorbed into the AAC. The AHAF maintains XR 244 which was built at Rearsby in 1961. She has remained at Middle Wallop for all of her operational life in the training role.
In her final years she was used to train pilots in the art of Forward Air Controlling and other fixed wing flying training in readiness for the introduction of the Beaver. XR 244 officially transferred to the AHAF on 11 September 1981.