Welcome to the Shield Xyla! The vision of one Yorkshireman, George Shield, was translated into this neat single-seater. It is a wooden aircraft, for the most part, hence the name Xyla, from the Greek for wood. The uncovered airframe was featured on the front cover of 'Popular Flying' in 1971, the year of its first flight. There are design ‘echoes’ of aircraft such as the Druine, but this aircraft is that rather overused word – unique.
The powerplant is very unusual, in that it is built by a famous manufacturer of aero engines – Continental Motors Corporation – but as a Ground Power Unit! The PC60 puts out around 100hp, and has been converted for airborne use. As an aside, a similar unit powered a famous WW1 replica aircraft, the Sopwith Tabloid built by a Rolls-Royce engineer, Don Cashmore, which is now on display in the RAF Museum – admittedly, that aircraft is now fitted with a genuine 80hp Gnome rotary engine, for added authenticity.
The PC60 in the Xyla originally drove a three-bladed propeller, but following a period in storage, and two more changes of ownership – both based in South Yorkshire – the engine is now fitted with a much more aesthetically-pleasing two-bladed prop.
The major rebuild (1500 hours of work) which was undertaken following the storage , also gave rise to a new colour scheme – all-over yellow to replace the original black - and a set of polished metal cowlings; the restored Xyla is currently hangared at Tibenham airfield in South Norfolk. What this means is that this ‘one-off’ piece of British light aviation history has become a cherished survivor, and it is back where it belongs – in the air. The aircraft is seen here at Hullavington Airfield, Wiltshire, during an event.