View Full Version : BOAC VC10 Flapless landing 1970

7th Jan 2010, 19:05
In 1970 on 21st December I was a passenger from Nairobi to London on a BOAC VC10 G-ASGG.

That trip was my first experience of the new "Airport Security", namely a chap ran a metal detector over your body and you had to point out your bag on the tarmac and only then would they lift it into the plane. I think this was not long after Dawson's field and Leila Khaled.

The flight went via Rome, presumably NBO non stop LHR was a bit tight.

Approaching London we held for quite a while before the Captain made a PA to advise that the flaps would not extend at all, (the trailing edges were certainly fully up and we took his PA to mean leading edges too.) Several passengers were moved from the back to the front to move the C of G forwards and we landed at LHR with a posse of fire engines and a few ambulances though no "brace brace". (Not easy getting more than one ambulance at LHR these days!)

The Captain's name was double barrelled ending in Stewart, may have been Middleton-Stewart.

Question 1 was this a very unusual technical problem for a VC10? On the 707 at the time they never even practiced total flap failure landings. Or was it a known glitch and trained for like a stab runaway on the 707?

I never flew the VC10 professionally although I have flown another British T-tail. Someone mentioned the "whiffle tree" the other day which brought back memories. (No I'm not talking about a pub but the hydraulic bias system peculiar to British T-tail planes.)

Question 2, the navigatorís sextant glass hatch on the VC10, was that BOAC story about the vacuum hose genuine or just folklore?

Just wondered if my ramblings might jog a few memories. Happy days, end of the golden age.

Yellow Sun
8th Jan 2010, 06:49
Question 2, the navigatorís sextant glass hatch on the VC10, was that BOAC story about the vacuum hose genuine or just folklore?

I don't know about the VC10 but we had a hose attachment for the sextant mount on the Nimrod.


8th Jan 2010, 10:24
Its going a bit off subject but I seem to recall a certain european 720B operator had a hose in the cockpit which was used as a vacuum cleaner via the sextant access until a UK engineer pointed out the damage to the leading edge of the tail fin :=

8th Jan 2010, 10:53
Cockpit vacuum cleaner................we certainly had them on Shackletons. Every self-respecting flight-engineer created the device by cutting a "letter-box" slot in the head of a used 1.75 flare tube and attaching a length of oxygen tubing to the open end. When inserted into the very pistol aperture, it became either a fantastic cooling airflow - slot facing forward, or a super device for emptying the armrest ashtrays - slot facing aft.
I think I've still got mine somewhere in the garage !

8th Jan 2010, 11:08
virgo, the Shack was unpressurized of course. On a VC10 or similar airliner you wouldn't need the slotted flare tube as the pressure differential would make sure that you'd get a vacuum function. Unfortunately cooling airflow was not an option in that case.

8th Jan 2010, 13:11
In the very early days of VC-10 operation I believe they had problems with the flap assymetric sensing system which could lock the flaps out . I say this as when I became a F/E on them in 1968 there was a proceedure if I remember correctly that allowed you, by tripping CBs, to try and reset the safety system. If you had no choice there was a proceedure where the the flaps could be inched down , but it was very much a proceedure to be used if there were no other options which included flapless landing

I have heard of the hose pipe as a vacuum cleaner too, but I must have flown with tidy crews so we never needed one. I do believe it was genuine though

Nairobi to London was well within the range of the VC-10 but at that time BOAC on African and Far East routes for commercial reasons would call in at on route cities.

I do not think the "whiffle Tree" had anything to do with the VC-10 being a
T-Tail aircraft. It was to do with the hydraulic feel unit which allowed due to the whiffle tree for the pilot to have the same feel with two hydraulic systems as with.

A great aircraft and would love to do a trip on one again, but there I also believe in Father Christmas :)

Not a Crew Chief
8th Jan 2010, 13:22
Never heard of using the sextant hatch as a vacuum cleaner in the RAF but pretty sure USAF did in KC135 (707) and C141 Starlifter. Sure there's a photo of a stream of paper cups being ejected from one or the other so must be ont t'interwebnet somewhere.

Whiffle tree was an arrangement in the feel sim to allow same feel whichever pump was working or pilot inputting. My tech notes are in the loft and I might get them out one day.

8th Jan 2010, 13:40
A few years ago I tried to write a sim scenario to end up flapless and slatless and couldn't come up with something sensible...

I don't know, the kids these days....;)

Slatless ferry, then flap asymmetry. I found the approach quite interesting, getting the speed stabilised was quite hard as it was quite easy to overcontrol the thrust needed.

But for real fun, try a total hydraulic failure in the sim. No speedbrakes, no flaps, no slats, no TPI, free-fall the landing gear, no nosewheel steering and only accumulator brakes. That's why they recommend the longest runway you can find - you've probably only got London Airport or Frankfurt to choose from!

I found the TPI wasn't as much of an issue with a total hydraulic failure in the K3 sim as I thought it would be - there wasn't much out of trim force at the recommended approach speed if the TPI had frozen at the cruise setting.

Dan Winterland
8th Jan 2010, 14:21
"A few years ago I tried to write a sim scenario to end up flapless and slatless and couldn't come up with something sensible..."

A sensible sim scenario? Things must have changed since I left!

Several flapless landings myself due to the hoses stuck out as well. No drama at all, just a high nose attitude on the approach and a minimal flare. in fact I'm prettty sure we were authorised to go and practice flapless or slatless approaches and had to do one every 6 months.

8th Jan 2010, 20:37
Years ago the Valiant was depressurised during the approach checks. One Smart Alec, myself, thought this would be a good time to open my DV window and chuck out all my rubbish over the Kenyan countryside. This I did and I was halfway through the rear crews contribution when it suddenly occurred to me that there were two Rolls Royce Avons humming away just behind my right shoulder.
A close post-flight seemed OK and we did not have any trouble coming back to the UK so I presume half eaten butties are an acceptable jet fuel.

Brian Abraham
9th Jan 2010, 02:38
Fareastdriver, reminds me of one of our erstwhile Caribou pilots who dispensed with the remnants of his in flight lunch in the same manner. Engine on his side promptly auto feathered - so the story went.

9th Jan 2010, 03:15
On the 707 at the time they never even practiced total flap failure landings

Hmmm, must have been a Brit thing:rolleyes:...as with the FAA, it was most certainly a demonstrated maneuver.

9th Jan 2010, 22:24
I don't know about other types but the One-Eleven had Whiffle Tree's on the Elev & Rudder feel units

9th Jan 2010, 23:44
The VC10 flap asymmetric sensors did fail from time to time. I don't recall a lockout ever being caused by a genuine asymmetric problem.

10th Jan 2010, 10:07
Fareastdriver, reminds me of one of our erstwhile Caribou pilots who dispensed with the remnants of his in flight lunch in the same manner.

Similar incident in a Long Nose Lincoln during a maritime exercise. Time to toss out empty cans of fruit juice known as battery acid, various half eaten stale and brutally hard buns with weevils, apple cores etc all nicely stuffed into the hard cardboard crew boxed lunch boxes. The starboard nose observation window was opened through which to do the big clean-up. It was wise in retrospect to feather No 3 but I didn't. After the sharks living in the Coral Sea had feasted we noticed slight vibration but temps and pressures normal.

Next day CO coldly asked where had I been low flying? Me, Sir? No way, Sir.

You lie, Flight Lieutenant (from the CO). I was led mystified to the hangar where the airmen were changing the No 3 prop. If you didn't low fly then how the hell did THAT happen sez CO pointing at red stains (tomato sauce), dents apparently from tins cans, and other minor scape marks on the prop tips. Ah! THOSE Sir with a nervous laugh. Must have been all the stuff we disposed overboard on the last leg of the marex over water.

He accepted my story which of course was true and I was off the hook. Memo to self: Next time use the rear turret to throw away the rubbish.

Further memo: What the stuff has this got to do with the thread about flapless landings in a VC10? Answer: None but seemed a good idea at the time.

10th Jan 2010, 20:17
1970 or '71. It was true. Well, I think it was 'cos I was with BOAC at the time (on 707-436s) and the story came to us from the VC10 fleet. F/E had bought a vacuum cleaner. Attached hose to sextant mount. Cleaned flight deck nicely until the hose sucked itself inside out and ended up thrashing itself to pieces on the top of the fuselage.

for some reason I remember that this happened between Melbourne and Perth - but in retrospect ... did the VC10 get down that way during those years? :confused:

10th Jan 2010, 20:52
reminds me of one of our erstwhile Caribou pilots who dispensed with the remnants of his in flight lunch in the same manner.

Sounds like the crew of a Buffalo on a Trans-Pac ferry flight who chose to dispose of the plastic liner of the honey bucket through the gap exposed by lowering the cargo ramp a tad - got a nasty lesson in low pressure aerodynamics in return!:uhoh:

Jumbo Driver
10th Jan 2010, 21:29
My memory is telling me there was a check on the VC10 which involved re-setting flap CBs prior to TOD - so presumably they were isolated at some stage after flap retraction in the climb ...

Secondly, the flight deck hose-pipe vacuum cleaner story certainly was true - I used to know who it was but grey matter fails me now ...

... and the VC10 did have a wiffle-tree (some call it whiffle) ... it was in the feel system, and provided the same feel to the system by a mechanical linkage between the two feel units if one unit failed.

Finally, in response to the original thread topic, my logbook tells me (rather oddly) that I was positioned out on that very same (G-ASGG) SVC10 under the command of C (was it Colin?) Middleton-Stewart from LHR to FCO on 21 February 1973, as part of a crew to operate back G-ASGL as QG (?) 6122, two days later.

Aahh, memories of Rome, Northbound ... "a fresh crew takes over here..."