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View Full Version : So, Farewell Then, British Midland... (The BMA Nostalgia Thread)


Midland 331
9th Sep 2012, 14:49
BMI Baby complete their final rotation from EMA at around 1130 tonight (09Sep).

So end some of the last ops of one of the UK's most enduring and distinctive carriers at their base. I understand that BMI Mainline have a while yet to go.

As some kind of celebration of past glories, there are over 150 images from the old days here..

Flickr: Classic British Midland Airways (http://www.flickr.com/groups/[email protected]/)

Please feel free to recall the good and bad bits of British Midland here.

r

merlinxx
9th Sep 2012, 15:06
No you nicked the Syrian Air contract from us, and then screwed that up:ugh:

Midland 331
9th Sep 2012, 15:59
I was amazed Mr Bishop had the guts to wet lease those geriatric jets to obscure carriers, considering their likely credit ratings...

It was an extremely bold piece of entrepreneurship. I seem to recall the company winning a Queen's Award for Industry.

(And please, let's keep this thread positive.)

Dave Clarke Fife
10th Sep 2012, 08:54
I don't think bmi mainline disappears until the end of October so all this talk of "the last ops of one of the UK's most enduring and distinctive carriers" is slightly premature. It is going to surely happen and will be a very sad day for many past and present members of the best airline that nobody knew about.

lexoncd
10th Sep 2012, 09:14
Happy memories as a passenger.

Diamond class domestic service with a hot breakfast to start the day. Warm scones and cream tea during the day and hot dinner at night.

Uk domestic from Manchester even had a hot breakfast with trimmings when they started.

I really started using BD over BA was when on one of my weekly jaunts to Oslo I used to return to the UK on a Friday night. There were two evening BA flights and one BD. One week for some unknown reason I ended up on BD... Initially not too happy but the service was excellent and to cap it all after the meal they came round with hot sponge pudding and custard....Now after a week of fish, fish and more fish on a cold winters evening that little thing made the difference. I soon became Gold member and still have many of my od diamond club cards and unused upgrade vouchers :ugh:

Finally, Transatlantic was something else. Brand new A330's with great crew excellent service and from manchester.

Good luck to all.

Shackman
10th Sep 2012, 09:45
Certainly sorry to see BMI Baby go - memories of many pleasant flights out of East Midlands.

Also agree with lexoncd - the best flights ever (as SLF) with BMI across the pond. Admittedly in business (an anniversary present to self and Mrs S) but the service was second to none, starting with the Chef (!!) coming round to talk about dinner! Having resolved it was the only way we would ever travel to the States again, they chopped it. :(

carlrsymington
10th Sep 2012, 10:03
On the 30th August 1997 ( I remember the date because HRH Diana died the next morning) I had the luck to be voluntary off loaded 6 times in a row at Belfast providing me with 6 free returns LHR-BFS-LHR.
I then spent them returning to Belfast on many a Friday evening. I loved the whole experience, from boarding the plane, hearing the distinctive Northern Irish accents, hot bacon rolls (breakfast?), the welcome intro from the pilot but not the forecast for usual cr4p Belfast weather. Never felt the same early on Monday mornings though.
Happy days!!!!!
Thank you all the BMI staff who made it happen.
Gone but not forgotten.

Midland 331
10th Sep 2012, 11:49
@Dave Clarke Fife,

Thanks for the correction. I'm way out of touch with the industry these days, but noted that lots of BMI flight numbers have changed to SHTnnnn on Flight Radar 24, so guessed that the BMI identity is begin wiped out pretty quickly from mainline, regional, etc.

SOPS
10th Sep 2012, 13:46
One of my best flying memories was a BD Diamond Class flight from AMS to EMA on a very cold and dark winter evening. Getting on board ( I think it might have been a DC9, but I could be wrong) anyway, getting on board, I can always remember feeling that winter had "gone" and "summer" was here...it was such a warm and friendly feeling in the diamond cabin. Proper hot food and drinks, and just a special "warm" atmosphere.

I have flown many many miles on a lot of airlines in the "forward cabins", but I always remember this flight as something special.:ok: (and it was quite a few years ago)

LAS1997
10th Sep 2012, 15:48
I have fond memories of BMA flying as a passenger in their Viscount's between LHR and LBA during the early / mid 1980's; later flying in the DC9-30 aircraft to MME. I also flew in the 737's between LHR and EDI; great in flight service and they certainly challenged BA on the domestic and European routes. BMA were the first to introduce hot meals and BA had to follow suit and replace the coffee and biscuits with meals re-branding as 'Super Shuttle'.

Their standards were very high and it was a credit to the staff and management that the company has lasted all these years.

I guess Virgin will now take up the challenge and attempt to compete with BA on these domestic routes; the interline traffic must make it worth it?

rogera
10th Sep 2012, 16:52
my first ever flight was on Britsih Midland BAC 1-11 G - AXLL ( I believe her nickname was " limping lill " ) from Lupton to Munich on a school ski-ing holiday in February 1971 returning a week later on Boeing 737 G - AWSY on the same route. I was hooked on aviation from that date ever since

boris
11th Sep 2012, 10:21
Never had such a pathetic nic-name when I flew her and that was in 1970!

She was a modern, beautiful British aeroplane and always will be...........

Midland 331
11th Sep 2012, 11:54
Castle Don. and the surrounding area wasn't ready for non-hush kitted Speys...

finncapt
11th Sep 2012, 15:26
Na rogera

Limping Lil was a 748, G-BFLL, which was owned by Danair but leased to BA Highland Division in the 80's.

With a full load, operating ABZ - JER, you could just about get it to FL130 by overhead Manchester.

Sir George Cayley
11th Sep 2012, 16:39
The Baby 73s have been dispersed to Norwich and Lasham.

I once phoned Liverpool Speke Airport to ask what time the BMi flight to London left. I was somewhat surprised at the answer - "what time can you get here la?" ;)

SGC

Midland 331
11th Sep 2012, 16:58
There were two attempts to make Liverpool work with DC9s and three/four rotations.

Considering the loads on Manchester-Heathrow, and the overlapping catchment areas, it was strange that neither attempt was successful. Some suggested a reluctance of the well-heeled from Cheshire to cross The Mersey.

Meanwhile, a sad shot from Norwich..

Bye-bye BMIbaby - Flight Image of the Day (http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/aircraft-pictures/2012/09/bye-bye-bmibaby.html)

crewmeal
12th Sep 2012, 05:34
As BA crew I always used to commute from BHX - LHR on those lovely Viscounts. Always on time, always a happy crew who looked after you. On odd occasions a DC9 came on the route. A pleasure to fly with!

goofer
12th Sep 2012, 22:13
Happy memories of GLA/LHR one snowy evening with, I'm sure, a DC9-10 as the equipment. Seemed very lively. The most friendly cabin crew who gave you 2 miniatures "to save coming back with more."

Years later same hospitable attitude on 321s to Baku - and what about the BM lounge at LHR? Surely the most civilised place from which to watch activity on 27R...

Sir M Bishop set the standard for airline management with his dignified response to Kegworth.

Midland 331
13th Sep 2012, 08:35
Minatures!

In the heydays of decent cabin service, some of the girl's flight bags were pretty heavy when they came off the last Heathrow at Teesside in the evening...

Hotel Tango
13th Sep 2012, 10:50
Many fond memories of British Midland. Both my sons were introduced to the Viscount at an early age and loved it. Their then one class Diamond service was brilliant. I remember the days when for a while they operated a DC-9 on BHX-LHR. On a BHX runway 15 departure and LHR runway 27R arrival day, and no ATC delay, could be as little as 20 minutes flying. In this time a full cooked breakfast was served! Those were the days!!

rogera
13th Sep 2012, 16:22
finncapt

I stand corrected. I saw a photograph of G - AXLL in Airliner World about a year ago in which she was called " limping lill "

finncapt
14th Sep 2012, 07:58
Don't worry - I wonder if all aircraft that have LL as their last two letters are referred to as Limping Lil?

Perhaps they are produced to be the worst performers in the fleet!!

Midland 331
14th Sep 2012, 08:05
Considering that, at the time BMA had the 1-11, 10/28 at East Midlands was not extended, were there ever any limitations on load?

rog747
19th Aug 2013, 15:47
cannot answer that as i joined BMA in 1977 and the 1-11's and 707-321's were long gone...
we were going all Douglas jet by then with G-BFIH and Finnair's YB
dovedale and darleydale (later Merseyside)
ulster came later on with AB

i seem to recall the new LPL DC-9 service we started in 1979 was at first
5 rotations like the MME but i maybe mistaken...

best hot breakfast ever was on the BD331 out of MME
which back then was supplied by the hotel St George near Middleton St George airport MME...
big sausages, mushrooms, smoked bacon and KIDNEYS yum it was delicious
:ok:

we started Med and Canaries holiday charters on the 3 x 707-320C's with 212 seats in 1982 for 3 or 4 summers plus long haul to LAX, YYZ, YVR also.
G-BMAZ
G-BFLD and LE

no IFE, really tight seating but the pax drank the bars dry, bought all the duty free, fell asleep and never complained!!!

very early one morning we at LHR had a 707 divert into us from Alicante due fog at EMA, when we opened the door on B4 stand the jetty filled with the aroma of Ambre Solaire and the hat racks jammed full of donkeys and sombreros LOL (did we really buy all that tourist tatt back then )

Midland 331
19th Aug 2013, 20:45
Most travel agents couldn't believe that we got 211 on a 707... We told them that one of the galleys had been removed, and this made more space.

My moment of shame when working as casual ground staff at EMA was meeting a Boeing parked on the north edge of the apron, and leading a long line of dawdling punters right across the ramp to arrivals, causing an inbound F27 to give way, rather like a car at a zebra crossing...

rog747
20th Aug 2013, 07:48
i am sure our paths may have crossed?

if you were at midland in the early 1980's do you remember Mr Bishop considering to obtain DC-9 Super 80's ?

i seem to recall a conversation but due to its length there would be handling issues at Terminal 1 LHR on some stands...

rog747
27th Nov 2015, 13:09
Well its official -

The following activity took place for BD on Amadeus -
BRITISH MIDLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRWAYS on 27 November 2015:
Distribution - Cancelled
Please note that the code BD now has been assigned to new carrier CAMBODIA BAYON AIRLINES

Will always remember when I worked for BMA ops at LHR waiting for our last flight of the day to call up on the R/T then we could all go home ---
(BD340 DC-9 LHR to Tees-side 20.25 departure)

''BD Ops, BD Ops, this is Midland three forty, Alpha Alpha - off at two zero, airborne at two five, Tees-side 10 early with 92 and nil, Goodnight!''


If it was our lovely Capt Tony Belcher then he always made the call when the flaps went up about Slough :ok:
thank you Tony for many years getting home early


THE END:{

Midland 331
27th Nov 2015, 18:02
Unbelievable. I wonder how many times during my time with the company I spoke, read, wrote, or typed the "BD" carrier code?

treadigraph
28th Nov 2015, 00:05
Not sure what me response should be but.... awwww. :{

WHBM
29th Nov 2015, 16:08
we started Med and Canaries holiday charters on the 3 x 707-320C's with 212 seats in 1982 for 3 or 4 summers plus long haul to LAX, YYZ, YVR also.
I know this post went in a while ago, but BMA had got into mainstream holiday charters well before then. The three One-Eleven 500 bought new in 1970 were principally used on such work, for holiday operators like Vistajet. However, this only lasted a few years and I presume was not profitable; they later spent much time leased out to Court Line. They did some scheduled operations around this work. One in the 1972 season was based at Prestwick.

rog747
30th Nov 2015, 16:11
yes indeed quite correct WHBM

and not just the 1-11 500's from 1970 to 1974 (yes 2 were leased to court line then the fleet sold by 4/74 to Brazil in part exchange for HP Heralds)

the viscount fleet too often went down to the Mediterranean from the 1960's right up to about 1981 and previously to that the BMA Argonauts and the DC3's from the Derby Airways days served the Costa's, islands and sunspots in the Med as well.
a DC3 was lost on app letting down to PGP and an Argie was lost at Stockport both on holiday charters.

The DC9's were also used on holiday charters from GLA LPL EMA BHX and MME plus a few from LHR - Lourdes and Jersey was popular as was Pisa and Rimini

the 707-321 fleet did for a while in the early 70's do some ABC affinity charter stuff.
the 3 fan-jet 707-320C fleet were completely refurbished during winter 1981 with a new wide look interior with a new type 1 757 type door fitted aft of the wing in place of the smaller hatch and 211 new seats
these served short and long haul until late 1984 when they were put up for sale and BMA left the charter market for a while

BMA came back into that market with the 737's and very much so with the 320/321 with dedicated charter aircraft until the end.

crewmeal
30th Nov 2015, 16:51
Back in my BA days I was in NBO the day East African went bust. No one quite knew what was happening until this 707 flew in under the guise of Kenya Airways. This 707 turned out to belong to BMA. The rest is as they say is history. The 707's also few for Kuwait for a time and I believe other Middle East carriers.

Midland 331
30th Nov 2015, 17:37
You have to admire Sir Michael Bishop's judgement of the IT market, namely when to dip in and out.

BMA's "Instant Airline" product won them a Queen's Award For Industry. They wet-leased to Sudan Airways, Syrian Arab, and PIA (I think). I seem to recall having a Syrian Arab sick bag to store things in as a teenager. And not vomit.

BMA's fleet were all very much bespoke-painted, to the extent that some of the "nines" show quite different characteristics of the font. Ernie Robey, the painter seemed to be quite able to master other liveries, too.

WHBM
30th Nov 2015, 17:49
BMA's fleet were all very much bespoke-painted, to the extent that some of the "nines" show quite different characteristics of the font.
I suppose it helped that the earlier DC9s were on long leases from Finnair, whose pale blue livery was quite similar to BMA at the time.

Some of them seemed to have Finnish or US registrations for years; were there any special crewing requirements as a result ?

bean
1st Dec 2015, 03:24
Out of the Five dc9s BMA operated between 1976 and 1983 (they never operated more than three at a time) only one came from finnai operated from 1977 to 79 and only two wore US registrationsr One pending British certification of the type and one on a short summer lease in 1978

VictorGolf
1st Dec 2015, 12:18
Following on from Midland's post, Bill Gunston's book "Diamond Flight" suggests that the 707s were operated by Air Algerie, Air Inter, Bangladesh Biman, DETA, East African, Gulf Air, Iraq, Kuwait, Libyan Arab, Malaysian, Nigeria, PIA,Tunis Air and Zambia in addition to those mentioned. No wonder he got an award!.Apparently Ernie Robey only had 36 hours to do a repaint.

rog747
1st Dec 2015, 13:00
re: post from Bean
Out of the Five DC9's BMA operated between 1976 and 1983 (they never operated more than three at a time) only one came from finnair operated from 1977 to 79 and only two wore US registrations One pending British certification of the type and one on a short summer lease in 1978.


some small corrections and the full BMA DC9 history to 1985 below.......
BMA crewed during the finnair leases whether painted up in BMA colours or not -
BMA Flight deck and cabin crews flew the ship and we carried a finnair engineer spanner around all day on the jump seat - he was based at LPL or MME depending on where that a/c based for that period.

OH-LYC & LYD were both leased from FINNAIR in their colours and then painted in full BMA colours 1983 but neither got a UK regn

OH-LYA & LYB were twice leased in Finnair and then in full BMA colours 1977-79 returned, and then eventually became G-BMAH/G-BMAI in 1983
(LYB was allocated regn G-BGWP in 1979 but ntu)

we leased N48075 (from Southern, ex KLM PH-DNF) in full BMA colours in 1978 whilst BMA's first DC-9, N65358 (obtained in 1976) was in Amsterdam for some certification work prior to allocation of its British regn G-BFIH (then G-BMAA in 1980)

G-BMAB and G-BMAC both came from TWA in 1979/80
G-BMAC was then leased for 9 months in 1982 to Best Airlines in the USA
G-BMAG came from KLM in 1982 ex PH-DNB

during my time with BMA at LHR 1977-1985
G-BMAA/B/C G/H/I
all six baby 9's were operating together by 1982/3

PLUS two DC 9-32 came along as well in early 1984 (built for East African)
G-BMAK/BMAM

the names then were:
Darley dale
Dove dale (always on BMA's first DC9)
Ulster
Merseyside

some other short DC9 leases included Martinair DC9-33RC PH-MAO 1981 and PH-MAX
KLM DC9-15 PH-DNC Dec 1984


in winter 1982/3 G-AXCP Dan Air 1-11 401 was leased for a few months to fly the MME-LHR route with BMA titles

rog747
1st Dec 2015, 13:47
re post from VictorGolf
Following on from Midland's post, Bill Gunston's book "Diamond Flight" suggests that the 707s were operated by Air Algerie, Air Inter, Bangladesh Biman, DETA/LAM, East African, Gulf Air, Iraqi, Kuwait, Libyan Arab, Malaysian, Nigeria, PIA, Tunis Air and Zambia in addition to those mentioned. No wonder he got an award!
Apparently Ernie Robey only had 36 hours to do a repaint.


to add to the above list we leased also to....
Ariana
Britannia
El Al
BCAL
Syrian
Somali
eagle air
air Rwanda
Zaire aero
Sudan blue Nile service (was the very first 707 leasing contract 1972)
Kenya AW start up for the new airline 1977

THE FIRST HIJACKING
In 1977 BMA also experienced its first hijacking whilst on the lease business – needless to say in the Middle East, on a flight from Beirut to Kuwait. By Palestinians. In this case the situation was resolved without the aircraft being blown up or anybody murdered.

707 FLEET first operated from 1970 until 1984
Boeing 707-321 G-AYBJ*, G-AYVE*, G-AYVG, G-AYXR, G-AZWA & G-BAEL
Boeing 707-324C G-AZJM
Boeing 707-373C N370WA
Boeing 707-338C G-BFLD* & G-BFLE*
Boeing 707-321C N448M/N448 became G-BMAZ*

*painted in full BMA colours for own charter services

Discorde
1st Dec 2015, 15:09
In 1977 BMA also experienced its first hijacking whilst on the lease business needless to say in the Middle East, on a flight from Beirut to Kuwait. By Palestinians. In this case the situation was resolved without the aircraft being blown up or anybody murdered.

I believe the flight engineer on this flight was Dave Brown, later a ground instructor with Britannia.

Helen49
3rd Dec 2015, 06:07
Flight International magazine used to carry a full page advert for B707 leasing which I think showed tails in the colour schemes of all the airlines who had leased from BMA.

rog747
3rd Dec 2015, 08:58
yes and on ebay now there is one for sale

HZ123
3rd Dec 2015, 13:47
Aside. As a police officer at STN we used to close the main road for larger aircraft, including your 707. On a very foggy night I recall a BMA take off and as it came off the edge of the runway prior to the road it was not unusual to imagine the a/c dropped the ground dropping away also.

The next morning it transpired that your a/c had demolished a small ground services hut across the road in the middle of the field .NFA ! Great stuff !