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.

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