Airbus A319 lands at Five Acre Wood School in Maidstone

An Airbus A319 airliner has landed at a school.

But rather than flying in, the former TAP Air Portugal aeroplane was craned into its new home at Five Acre Wood School in Boughton Lane in Maidstone.

Head teacher Tim Williams with the cockpit and part-fuselage of an Airbus A319
Head teacher Tim Williams with the cockpit and part-fuselage of an Airbus A319

The cockpit and part of the fuselage are to be re-purposed to make a new library for the school which specialises in the education of youngsters with autism and learning difficulties.

The aircraft will be a surprising new facility when the children return from their Easter break - but it won’t be the only one. The same morning, the school had a freefall lifeboat that formerly saw service on the Scottish oil rigs also craned into position.

The lifeboat, which looks a bit like a submarine, was designed to take 45 people in an emergency. It will be re-fashioned as a counselling room for pupils and staff.

The aeroplane is to be named the 7FAW7 while the lifeboat will become the Fawtilus. In case you haven’t picked it up, FAW stands for Five Acre Wood.

Head teacher Tim Williams said: “We wanted to have something quirky and innovative to inspire the children.

The lifeboat is craned into position
The lifeboat is craned into position

“At Five Acre Wood, we dare to dream!

“With the help of some generous partners, we’ve been able to achieve that.”

Mr Williams let out a surprising secret. He said: “The plane was actually cheaper than buying the standard office unit!”

The 7FAW7 will be wrapped with inspirational quotes to encourage reading, while the Fawtilus will be set on a bed of concrete painted blue to look as though it is on the sea.

The two units were moved into position by Ainscough Crane Hire in an operation that took just short of four hours.

They were watched by a small but enthusiastic crowd of invited staff and parents.

The new arrivals join a former train carriage on the site that was delivered last August. Known as the Fawrient Express, it is to be fitted out as a cafe.

The school already has a double-decker bus, donated by Maidstone bus company Nu-Venture. It is being fitted out as a soft-play area.

Peggy Murphy is the principal at the school.

She said: “We never do things by halves here!”

School principal Peggy Murphy
School principal Peggy Murphy
Kevin Filmer and his grandson Ralph Wallace, aged nine
Kevin Filmer and his grandson Ralph Wallace, aged nine

The plane and lifeboat were given the thumbs up by Five Acre Wood pupil Ralph Wallace.

The nine-year-old said: “It’s very exciting and a surprise. I didn’t know this was happening until this morning! I love being at this school.”

Ralph, from Boughton Monchelsea, has been a pupil since he was five.

His grandfather Kevin Filmer said: “Being at this school has been really good for Ralph. He’s come on in leaps and bounds.”

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