Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Number 28 in a Never Ending Series

Friday, 24 February 2012

A303 Wrecks and Relics

Welcome, today we go right back to where it all started. Its early 1970 and on the way back from a school field trip to Cornwall I spot some interesting things  as the coach grinds slowly up the A303, so an expedition is planned. So grab your Kodak Instamatic ( remember those?) and sink back into the luxury of the leather bench seats (handbrake on the right by the door) whilst you admire the Burr Walnut dashboard of the 1960 Singer Gazelle (bought for £25  jointly with your mate and insured for £15 tpft for two 17 year olds! read and weep all you youngsters) no need to chip in for the petrol as its 6s2d a gallon ( 31p in this new fangeled monopoly money) so we can fill the tank for less than a fiver. Its amazing what you could do by working saturdays as a petrol pump attendant ( remember those ?). Where did it all go wrong ?  ( don't get me started on that or I will have to start writing another blog on the subject!).

Anyway back to business , we head off past Windsor to the A303  eventually arriving at a wind and rain swept Blackbushe, and not an aircraft to be seen on the apron ( a far cry from the British Eagle days). A polite request to the friendly controller gets us permission to drive round the taxyway to the far side of the airfield , as long as we promise not to drive on the runway, and give way to any aircraft. Arriving outside the hangar  we find parked in the long grass a number of ex Royal Navy WS51 Dragonfly Helicopter's in various states of  disrepair.

Moving on down the A303 we arrive at an equally rain swept and deserted Thruxton, with not a person to be seen during our visit, but parked out are the remains of several Avro Anson C21's unfortunately with all identity removed. The Anson being of particular  nostalgia to me having seen the formation of 5 Anson's practising for the farewell flypast when they were withdrawn from service with the Metropolitan Communications Squadron at RAF Bovingdon a couple of years previously.

And so as the Gazelle heads slowly up the single carriageway of the A303  we say say goodbye to Roger and Reggie till next time.

P.S. if you would like to feed the fish, just left click some food into the pond.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Something for the Over 50's

Q:- What does a Twin Pioneer look like ?

A:- It looks like a Beverly that will be here in 20 minutes.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Film Stars Arrive at Luton Airport

Welcome, Its May 1978, and we have driven the Mini Van into the gathering gloom to Luton, but a one off event is about to occur, its after 9pm and the lens of the Mamyia is wide open. Out of the darkness a formation of B25's appear and break for landing after a remarkable journey across the atlantic.

Led in by the late Jeff Hawk a somewhat dubious character in the preservation / freight charter market, Five B25's  have routed via Miami across the mid atlantic to the Azores then onto Luton. A sixth B25 flown by a pilot subscribing to the "there are old pilots and bold pilots but no old bold pilots" theory arrives early the following morning via the conventional Goosebay Reykjavik route.

The B25's are here to film Hanover Street  co-starring  Harrison Ford and Lesley-Anne Down.  The aircraft are quickly wheeled into the old Courtline hangar and resprayed in their film colours, to depart 2 days later to the former RAF Bovingdon  for filming.

Unfortunately after filming the fleet moved on to Blackbushe where they were parked out for a while before Jeff Hawk flew them individually at airshows around europe until each was dumped where it went u/s and eventually  sold for scrap in lieu of unpaid bills. as far as I am aware none made it back to the USA.

I believe a film was made of the Atlantic crossing and shown on TV. If anyone knows where I could get a copy please let me know.



N7681C   44-86701

N9455Z 44-30201 'Tokyo Express' you can judge the light by the a/c lights and Britannia's illuminated sign.

NL-9494Z 44-30925 'Laden Maiden'

N86427 painted as 'Brenda's Boys' about to depart for Bovingdon.

And so as the Mini Van disappears into the dark night we say goodbye to Roger and Reggie till next time.

All photo's available as 6" x 4"  prints, please email for details

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Heathrow Terminal One Car Park

Welcome, its April 1974 and today we once again speed round the country lanes to Heathrow. For a change of view we are on top of the Terminal One car park for a panoramic vista of 28 Right. Its going to be a squeeze as the back seat is out of the vaguely rally prepared 1963 Austin Mini to make way for the full harness seatbelt anchors. But the Zenith B should be red hot by the end of the day with all the comings and goings at LHR.

The end of an era still in its B.O.A.C. colours but with British Airways titles is Boeing 747  G-AWNF.

A rarity for LHR even in 1974 is Electra Freighter LN-FDN.

Not yet displaced by its big brother is T.W.A. Boeing 707-320 N18702.

Touching down on 28 Right is Air India Boeing 707 VT-DJJ.

Climbing away is Swissair DC8 HB-ICK.

Back over on the Queens building a couple of years earlier is Lufthansa Boeing 737-130 D-ABEP with Munich Olympic's titles. Its a pity Boeing made the 100series 737 to small as it was a better looking aircraft than the stretched versions but unfortunately Lufthansa was the only airline that ordered it.

And so as the sun sets over the 10 Left threshold the Mini disappears into the gathering night and we say goodbye to Roger and Reggie till next time.

All photo's available as 6" x 4" prints. Please email for details.

If you would like to feed the fish just left click some food into the pond.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

McAlpine Aviation

Welcome, the Vauxhall Chevette is fuelled up and there is plenty of film for the Canon AE1 so lets burn rubber round the Luton perimeter road for a look at some of the aircraft operated by McAlpine Aviation.

The McAlpine fleet is something of a mystery to both the casual observer and compilers of fleet lists during the period  this blog covers 1971 - 1984 , as few of the aircraft operated on charter were actually owned by McAlpine and apart from the Aztecs none carried any company name after 1974, making it difficult to pin down the operator ( in the Bill Gunston book Hawker The 125 Story the only mention McAlpine get is as doing some maintenance despite the 21 strong 125 charter fleet) as they were often confused with other aircraft based in the hangar on engineering contracts which were owner operated  ( a good example being the Fayair HS125 and G2 frequently listed as operated by McAlpine  but in fact operated independently ). The basis of the operation was that all the aircraft were on a public transport    C of A and when the owners were not using them the aircraft were available for charter operations with 10% of the charter price being credited to the owner to offset maintenance and management fees. In this way McAlpine operated in excess of 50 aircraft during this period with the largest number operated at one time in the late 70's being around 27, making them in aircraft terms the largest operator at Luton and in the top ten in the country. So here is the first selection of aircraft operated but not owned by McAlpine.

We start with Cessna C421B Golden Eagle G-BCBK (known in the hangar as the Golden Shitehawk) owned by the engineering company 600 Group.

Cessna 421C G-BRIT owned by Britannia Airways and used for ferrying crews to and from outstations like Cardiff  when operating "W" pattern flights ie  LTN - PMI - CWL - PMI - LTN .  The operation of G-BRIT was taken over when Executive Express went out of business.

Another result of the demise of Executive Express was McAlpine buying the Euroflite scheduled service EMA - LTN -BRU  operated by a single Bandierante G-BKWB formerly G-CHEV and later replaced by Jetstreams 31's. Euroflite was run as a separate company but used McAlpine crews.

HS125-400B G-AYNR owned by Commercial Union Insurance.

HS125-1B G-BDYE one of a number of HS125's purchased by Nigerian's during the late 70's with more thought of impressing the neighbours rather than the number of tech stops needed to get a short range Series One  from Luton to Lagos.

HS125-400B G-BACI owned by BSR Ltd  ( Birmingham Sound Recordings, manufacturers of record decks, remember those? and having to choose between mono and stereo LP's). CI  always caused great hilarity when in Italy BACI being translated as kiss ! although the Italians retaliated with a Falcon registered I-KISS.

The longest serving member of the McAlpine Fleet was Piaggio P166 G-APWY  pictures just before its final flight to Southend ,owned initially by McAlpine and later sold to GEC Avionics, used for navigation equipment trials till retired to the Southend Aviation Museum and now on display at the Science Museum Wroughton. Its finest hour was keeping Milan Airport open for 2 days, by dispersing fog during cloud seeding experiments.

And so as the Chevette roars into the distance we say goodbye to Roger and Reggie till next time.

All photo's available as 6" x 4" prints ,please email for details.

If you would like to feed the fish just left click some food into the pond.