View Full Version : Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer

6th Jan 2003, 10:22
Enjoying the threads on the Beverly and Miles a/c got me wondering if anybody had any stories about the "Twin Pin" which I have an interest in as my father worked for SAL at Preswick and was involved in some of the flight tests for it.


6th Jan 2003, 13:13
When I was but a lad in Singapore in from '67 to '69, I was in the Changi troop of the Air Scouts - we were given a Twin Pin when it was retired. As a joke, the groundcrew had made a giant key to be inserted into the side of the fuselage, with 'Turn 360 times for one hours' flight' written on it!

They weren't far off; that beast could easily hover in a headwind!

6th Jan 2003, 13:48
Buy the video 'UK Airshows 2002' by D&D and you will see the Coventry-based TP arriving (I didn't use the word landing deliberately!) at G-VFWE in May02 @ Kemble.

Wonderful stuff.

(the conditions were not good, especially for such crosswind- sensitive machines. The pilot actually did an excellent job in difficult circumstances. DOES THAT GET ME OFF THE HOOK??!!)


Cornish Jack
6th Jan 2003, 14:02
Yet another funny old aeroplane, the 'Twin Pin'. We had one, complete with crew, 'on loan', to fill in for our Devon while it was away in Singapore being 'major-ed'. Went round most of our Indo-Chinese stamping grounds with it and ended up giving a 'demo' flight at Vientiane for Air America who, apparently thought of buying some at the time.
We spent the day before the 'demo' cleaning and polishing and, for the 'piece de resistance' did a short landing on the limited length laterite before the main PSP strip proper. UNFORTUNATELY there had been a heavy downpour and the laterite was full of puddles. We landed, very short, and turned 90 degs to show just how short the rollout had been but nothing could be seen through the mud plastered windows!! :mad:
Air America eventually got Dornier 27s and 28s.

6th Jan 2003, 14:59
There's two out of the three still airworthy in the world flying at Coolangatta Airport, in south-east Queensland in Australia.
A mate of mine runs the operation - Graham Booth.
Boothy is one of the few people in Aus still able to fly the things, and he just loves 'em. I've been lucky enough to fly in VH-EVB a few times to help him out, and although not exactly fast it's good fun to pole around.
They certainly mark their spot when they park, with oil dripping from the Alvis engines! :)

6th Jan 2003, 15:14
Air Atlantique's Twin Pioneer, based at Coventry, is certified for Public Transport and available for pleasure flying and charter if your interested. Check out the following sites if you are interested.



John (Gary) Cooper
6th Jan 2003, 18:45
The Twin-Pin first flew on 25th June 1955, carried 16 pax max powered by two Alvis Leonides 570 h.p. engines, cruising speed 159 mph at 11000'.

Engine serviceability: If you could overcome the oil leaks then it wasn't a bad kite. Take Offs remarkable, a few yards and away, even crossways on the peri-track! Flew in one to Puttalam from Katunayake.

Interesting to see some still flying.......

6th Jan 2003, 23:15
I know the whereabouts of John Gibson, who told me some years ago that he was involved in the certification of the TwinPin...(Boscombe T/P at the time...).
Will buy him a pint and get him to contribute a few thousand words on the subject!

7th Jan 2003, 02:19
I recall observing the pilot of a 21 Sqn Twin Pin in flight who flicked a fag end out of his side window. Try that in a Herc!

With a reasonable wind, and everything hanging off the wing, a TP could land in a very short distance indeed.

7th Jan 2003, 10:24
J.F. Airlines, later Jersey Ferry Airlines, operted a brace of Twin Pins (G-APHX/Y) from Portsmouth Airport in 1971 and 1972. So far as I am aware these were the only Twin Pioneers ever to operate fare-paying scheduled passenger services in the UK.

7th Jan 2003, 13:25

8th Jan 2003, 12:58
Cornish Jack;

Air America did get some Twin Pins eventually - albeit through one of their subsidiaries, Continental Air Services....


Looks like your demo paid off after all!

8th Jan 2003, 16:40
There were two operated by Kuwait Airways for the Kuwait Oil Company in the1960's. I think that they ended up in U.K. eventually. What happened in between is very interesting but you would need to contact the Kuwait Prision Service to get the details! I have fond memories of the machine esp. the Bicycle mechanism which operated the flaps.
There is a great video of a Twin Pin airtest but I would need to contact the author before releasing details. If you are interested post a reply.
Rgds. FaPo Gai.

Cornish Jack
8th Jan 2003, 18:59
Nopax, thanx
Thank you for that! Amazing what info comes to light 40 years later :) The plank wing fleet at Boscombe still had a Twin Pin when I arrived there in the mid 70s but it was stood on its nose by one of the ETPS 'studes' doing some over enthusiastic braking. :( That was another of its remarkable features - the brakes.

8th Jan 2003, 20:33
Thats the aircraft that Air Antique use. The Single Pioneer was even more fun ,in a breeze it could get airborne across the runway.I think there may still be one sitting in the tops of the trees at a strip in MALAYSIA, one way in and same route out with no overshoot,after you turn the corner!!

Cornish Jack
8th Jan 2003, 21:10
Thanks for that Sycamore.
Re. the Single Pin take-off across the runway, had that demo'd on my only trip in one in Aden. Master Pilot 'Bim' Ward was in charge and (from memory) he got it back to 17 knots indicated during the flight. He reckoned that the stick forces were about the same as the Lancaster. They had rather a lot of forced landings due to engine failures when they first arrived - later discovered to be down to lack of efficient sand filters allowing sand to be converted to glass on the plugs. (From recent reports on mil. equipment, plus ca change :( )

8th Jan 2003, 22:28
Wasn't there a story about an over-enthusiastic short take-off in a Single Pin at Farnborough one year, which resulted in a circuit and landing minus an elevator?

8th Jan 2003, 22:41
Who remembers the Farnborough demonstration of the single Pioneer in 1951(?) where it was manhandled to a take off position with the tail wheel off the edge of the runway, and the main wheels right on the edge, intending to depart across the runway.
Unfortunately the marshalling team failed to ensure that the tail plane was clear of all obstructions, and when the take off was commenced a runway marker light contacted the leading edge of one side of the tail plane.
The resultant impact removed that side of the tail plane completely, plus attached elevator, but nothing daunted, the plane became airborne ACROSS the runway, and was demonstrated very briefly minus half the horizontal tail. It also landed safely afterwards
It appeared as if all three tail fixtures; fin, and left and right tail plane were inter-changeable in the interests of simplicity, but the method of attachment left something to be desired.:)

9th Jan 2003, 01:35
The 2 Twin Pins in Australia are currently for sale.

This is the link to the advertisement.


9th Jan 2003, 09:21
Thanks for the stories.

FaPoGai - I would certainly be interested to see the air test video if you can get the OK to release it. The only film I have seen of one was recently on BBC Scotland's Flying Scots documentary when they showed the famous bicycle race where a Twin Pin took of at a slower ground speed than a man on bicycle was cycling at.

Conc - Hadn't realised there was an Air Atlantique show this year. Will certainly try and make it this year -missed the last one. You mentioned their Twin Pin is on a PT CofA. Anybody know if they would rent it out for an instructional hour if I ever get a twin rating? Cost would no doubt be horrendous but might be great fun.


10th Jan 2003, 11:24
I will try, but it might take some time to arrange it, watch this space. In the meantime I think that they were registered 9K-ACB and 9K-ACC and almost certainly finished up in UK.
Rgds. FPG.

10th Jan 2003, 19:48
Speechless Two: Brief report I have found says "Suffered fuel starvation and fell (sic) into the sea while en route Marrakesh to Las Palmas".

FaPoGai: The Kuwait Twin Pins were the two I mentioned in a previous post about J.F. Airlines. They took up their old registrations G-APHX/Y, and when they first started flying out of Portsmouth were still in Kuwait's BOAC-style white/dark blue livery with J.F. titles. They were later repainted (I think when J.F. became Jersey Ferry Airlines, the original 'J.F.' signifying company founder, motorcycle dealer and former Portsmouth City Councillor John Fisher) in bright colours with little cartoon Twin Pin logos. I thought I remembered red and purple aircraft, a friend says yellow and green. I'm sure the company only had the two, so either our memories are at fault, or they were repainted again during their short spell of service in 1972. I suspect the garish colour schemes and cartoons were part of a plan to get people to identify with these rather curious looking aircraft, in the vein of Aurigny's 'little yellow 'plane' Islanders and Trislanders.

11th Jan 2003, 20:42
Click below for pictures of Twin pins in the field.
Twin Pins (http://www.vfaulkner.freeserve.co.uk/)

12th Jan 2003, 02:59
Twin Pins used to take off across the runway at Tengah in 1965/66.

It wasn't actually a designated runway, but they didn't need to taxi all that way to the actual, and they didn't require much!

12th Jan 2003, 23:39
Two of the last Twin Pioneers in the UK were operated from RAF Odiham in 1966-7 as part of the Short Range Conversion Unit (SRCU), training pilots and navigators for the Far East squadron. When this operation came to an end and the Twin Pins left, SRCU became HOCF (Helicopter Operational Conversion Flight), converting crews to the Wessex HC2.

Just a few trips in the TwinPin by the flight’s engineering officer showed some amazing characteristics of the aircraft. Held on the brakes with full power applied, the tail would come up with only modest down-elevator, and the level flying position could be held while stationary! Brakes off from there, it seemed only a few yards of take-off roll were needed in a light breeze, and then a haul back on the control column established an obstacle-clearing climb at some ridiculously low airspeed. On the approach, too, the huge flaps and full-span slats gave it a steep, slow approach that was similar to that of the Wessexes operating on the same airfield. Just as the runway rose up to meet you at a terrifying rate, a check-back to flare and cutting the power resulted in a gentle landing roll that could be stopped in yards. No wonder ETPS had one to play with – I bet they loved it, especially as a blank-sheet-of-paper exercise.

The two Twin Pioneers, XM 961 and XP 295 were flown in formation from RAF Odiham to RAF Shawbury, ostensibly for scrapping, on 12 July 1967. The flight was not without incident, with a spectacular air-miss (airprox, now) between the formation and an Andover from RAF Benson, just north of Reading. How close? Well, the crew in the second aircraft, 295, heard the noise of the Andover as it went past, over the noise of the twin Leonides. That close. We landed at RAF Shawbury in silence, in what is technically known as a pool of fright.

Far from being scrapped, the two aircraft found a new lease of life with Flight One at Staverton a few years later, XM 961 becoming G-BBVF (now in the Museum of Flight at East Fortune) and XP 295 becoming G-AZHJ, serving later with Air Atlantique and now, I believe, owned by the Prestwick Pioneer Preservation Society.

Lovely aeroplanes. Difficult to keep serviceable for an intensive training task, but a privilege to be involved with. Especially looking back! Good luck to those looking after them now.

23rd Jan 2003, 18:20
Thank you for the follow-up on the ex.KAC machines.
Do you know about the Bedouin and the whiskey?
Rgds. FPG.

23rd Jan 2003, 18:37
I think the Flight One Twin Pins were doing an OS survey contract from Blackpool in the mids 80s. I also recall seeing one stooging around Hatfield a lot in about 84/85 on some kind of trial with BAe Dynamics.

29th Oct 2004, 20:27
Hullo, FPG. I would be interested in that Twin Pin airtest video you mention.

30th Oct 2004, 13:14
... and I bet a whole bunch of other pruners would be too !!!

1st Nov 2004, 16:45
Out of interest, the Air Atlantique aircraft is the ex-ETPS airframe and it is still flown for an evaluation exercise by ETPS students during their course (dual only!).

3rd Nov 2004, 09:12
A very late addition to this thread, but a good story.

Twin Pins were (just) before my time, but had been flown on 78 Sqn in Aden. I joined 78 in Sharjah as my first tour when they were a purely rotary unit. As junior pilot, I became the F540 officer, in charge of the the Sqn's History - F 540 being the Operational Record Book - and had custody of all the records dating back to WW2. Which I avidly read.

The story from those records concerned a trial fit of wire-guided air-to-surface missiles (SS10 or SS11) to the Twin Pin in Aden! A French contractor (Sud Aviation?) was out in Aden supervising the trials, when there was a "contact" up country. The Twin Pin was sent and provided actual CAS to the troops including live missile firing, complete with French civvy still on board. Some trial. And at a guess some very surprised "insurgents"!

I won many pints from fast-jet piots over the years with the question: "Which was the first RAF aircraft to fire a guided missile in anger?" And the Twin Pin was never ever guessed.....

Genuinely true story, hope I haven't breached the OSA! 78 Sqn still exists flying helicopters in the Falklands ... any chance of my many-times-successor as F540 officer providing more details????

Onan the Clumsy
4th Nov 2004, 02:54
zalt I think the Flight One Twin Pins were doing an OS survey contract from Blackpool in the mids 80s. There definately used to be at least one flying out of Blackpool, but seeing as I left there in 1978 :ooh: It may have been a different one. I'd say mid to late seventies for the one I knew.

Also what looked like F27s coming in from the Isle of Man. I always wanted to do that flight, even looked into it once, but it was a little pricey. Maybe someday.

5th Nov 2004, 12:40
Air Atlantique own TWO Twin Pins. G-APRS is the flyer and there is a second ex Presrtwick airframe for spares use.

surely not
16th Nov 2004, 07:51
As a young lad I was given the choice by my dad of a flight to the Jersey Air Rally in a BAC 1-11 from Gatwick or by Twin Pioneer from Portsmouth. Needless to say the Twin Pin option won easily.
With a full load of spotters the take off was still a non event and over before it had started!!
It was the Red a/c that we flew on, and it went tech in Jersey. The Yellow beastie flew the spare part in from Shoreham and we were only delayed for a couple of hours.
Terrific experience all round.

28th Jan 2005, 09:38
Just resurrecting this thread to mention that the 50th Anniversary of the first flight of the Twin Pioneer falls on 25 June this year. The Prestwick Branch of the RAeS are having a bit of a party - details here www.raes.org.uk/raes/divisionsandbranches/AA2005.pdf in case it is of interest.


Green Meat
29th Jan 2005, 09:48
Just to return to the slight thread hi-jack of earlier about the Single Pin, if anyone has any pictures of it in service that haven't already been published, I'd be very interested to see them as I'm working on a museum display model (scale, not a secret restoration!) as we speak. Have pilot's notes and plenty of pics from Manchester/Cosford already, can anyone help?

Also, my better half's father used to fly on the Kuwaiti Twin Pins to pick up injured crew from the rigs. Edited for stupidity, the fresh food run to Beruit was done by Daks.


29th Jan 2005, 14:25
I remember an old friend, Captain Jim Fraser, recounting the tale of his ferry flight with 2 Twin Pins in formation from PIK to Damascus
Day 1..PIK to LGW to clear customs
Day 2 LGW to Le Bourget to collect maps and charts
Then ,Ithink, Carcasson,Genoa, Rome, Brindisi, Souda Bay and ended in Cairo
I think the op was for Aramco
He remembered cars overtaking the on the autostrada !
If you are out there Jim PM me
Jack aka Twonky

31st Jan 2005, 12:39
Ah yes - happy memories of the Twin Pin.

Serving in one of her Majesty's aircraft carriers in a non-flying appointment during the 60's, I and a similarly unhorsed mate were at a loose end in Singapore while the ship was in dry dock. We rang round the various squadrons on the island, in the way that you do, to find someone who would take us on for a while. 209 Squadron at Seletar came up trumps and we had great fun flying Twin Pins around with them.

It had an identical cockpit and systems to the Sea Prince, which we'd both flown, except that starting was by means of a kind of lavatory chain that hung down from the cockpit roof. Short landings were extraordinary, at least to a Buccaneer pilot. With everything out, the aircraft came down like a parachute, needing just a short burst of power to cushion the arrival. Brushing through the tops of the trees on the way in to jungle strips was positively encouraged.

We didn't get to fly the thing solo as the CO, the only person who could sign us off, was on leave in the UK, but we had a lot of fun for a couple of weeks.

Those were the days...

1st Feb 2005, 02:03
One thing can be said for British aircraft design , they didnt give a bugger what they looked like.

2nd Feb 2005, 12:05
Green Meat
Turtles I suppose?
Yes, we did pick up the injured from rigsBut the main purpose of the flights was communication. There were no roads in those days, once there were the need for the Twin Pin vanished. Of course there are wonderful stories about it's twilight in Kuwait. All associated with the Highland Brew. But I guess you know all about that!
Rgds. HissingSid.

2nd Feb 2005, 16:11
GreenMeat, HissingSid

You talk about picking up injured guys from rigs in Kuwait using the Twin Pin. I have this vision of a Twin Pin landing on a helipad attached to something like a North Sea Oil Rig. I know the Twin Pin is good but is that right or were they onshore rigs with short strips nearby?



Green Meat
3rd Feb 2005, 21:01

The guy I know was one of the team waiting back at the hospital. The stories go that he would hitch a ride from time to time for various purposes, but I'll see how much detail I can get out of him this weekend!



1st Mar 2005, 11:49
I boast 254 hours in VH-AIS looking for uranium south of Darwin. 105 kts cruise. Wow!

1st Mar 2005, 15:31
>It had an identical cockpit and systems to the Sea Prince, which we'd both flown, except that starting was by means of a kind of lavatory chain that hung down from the cockpit roof.<
Schiller old salt.
With due respect your memory must be failing. The Twin Pin cockpit was nothing like the Sea Prince. I was on 152 Sqn in 1959/61 flying Pembrokes (Sea Princes) and Twin Pioneers in the Gulf and Oman. The two types were like chalk and cheese, especially in the cockpit department. I enjoyed the Tin Pin immensely, but it was not too reliable in the sandy conditions. The cartridge starter, (operated by the lavatory chain) which had been specified by the MOS as the RAF aircraft would be operating without ground support was a real pain in the neck. Many times I had to get senior army officers to pull start an engine utilising a triangular folded sack hooked over a prop tip and tied to the end of a rope. The Pembroke's electric starters, powered from the batteries, never us gave any trouble. In high ambient temperatures the cruising speed of the TP was 90 kts if you were lucky, even slower with the engine cooling gills fully open. We operated them for months with the flaps and slats locked up after chain failures caused by sand in the works. I could go on for ever about the quirks and foibles of the beast, but my overriding memory of the Twin Pioneer is one of great affection.
This link with photos taken at that time should work.
http://www.airliners.net/open.file?id=182976&WxsIERv=Fpbggvfu%20Nivngvba%20Gjva%20Cvbarre%20PP1%20%28Fef1 %29&WdsYXMg=HX%20-%20Nve%20Sbepr&QtODMg=Njnvsn&ERDLTkt=Bzna&ktODMp=Sroehnel%2022%2C%201960&BP=0&WNEb25u=Wbua%20Wnzrf&xsIERvdWdsY=KZ291&MgTUQtODMgKE=&YXMgTUQtODMgKERD=1134&NEb25uZWxs=2001-08-13%2000%3A00%3A00&ODJ9dvCE=&O89Dcjdg=&static=yes&sok=JURER%20%20%28nvepensg_trarevp%20YVXR%20%27Fpbggvfu%20Ni vngvba%25%27%29%20NAQ%20%28ZNGPU%20%28nvepensg%2Cnveyvar%2Cc ynpr%2Ccubgb_qngr%2Cpbhagel%2Cerznex%2Ccubgbtencure%2Crznvy% 2Clrne%2Cert%2Cnvepensg_trarevp%2Cpa%2Cpbqr%29%20NTNVAFG%20% 28%27%2B%22Wbua%22%20%2B%22Wnzrf%22%27%20VA%20OBBYRNA%20ZBQR %29%29%20%20BEQRE%20OL%20cubgb_vq%20QRFP&photo_nr=10&prev_id=185700&next_id=182975&size=L

2nd Mar 2005, 17:08
Well not even that remarkable machine could do offshore rigs!
What actually happened was that a strip would be bulldozed adjacent to where the rig was going to be positioned,this was then sprayed with crude oil, locally known as ZIFT. You can use your imagination of the translation to English.
If my memory is correct the road building schemes meant that by 1968/9 there was no further need for the T.P. and they were then sold to a former Dan-Air pilot and wound up in S.West U.K. running sea food to France. However in between, there is another fascinating story. You may be able to trace it in the Prison records of the Kuwait government! My lips are sealed.
Rgds. Sid.

3rd Mar 2005, 14:36
The Twin Pioneer was also called 'The Painting'. If you saw one in the circuit you could go and do something constructive, return and it would still be there.

3rd Mar 2005, 15:42
From Janes 57-58.


The Twin Pioneer is a 16-passenger light transport, which uses standard Pioneer wings attached outboard of a new wing centre-sec tion. The Prototype first flew on June 25, 1955 and the first production Twin Pioneer flew on April 28, 1956. An unspecified number of Twin Pioneers have been ordered for the Royal Air Force. Other firm orders include one for Rio- Tinto Corp. for aerial surveys; three for de Kroonduif, the Dutch New Guinea associate of KLM. one for the Zinc Corp of Australia, two for Kuwait Oil, three for the Royal Iran Flying Club one for the Austrian Government, and two jointly for the governments of Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei. In addition, Philippine Air Lines have ordered five Twin Pioneers powered by Pratt & Whitney R-1346 Wasp engines, the change in power plant requiring little modification to the aircraft.

Max speed at 1,450 ft 165 m.p.h.
Max continuous cruising speed at 3,400 ft 163 m.p.h.
Stalling speed 60 mph.
Service ceiling 18,800 ft.
Take-off distance to 50 ft. 1,017 ft.
Landing distance from 50 ft 1,170 ft.
Range at cruising speed of 119 mph, at 5,000 ft. 916 miles.

3rd Mar 2005, 16:44
That quoted cruising speed is extremely optimistic! Another useless fact:- Fuel Capacity 365 imperial gallons, a very easy number to remember for the annual check.

4th Mar 2005, 10:32
More useless information: Out of the 87 Twin Pioneers built, 35 crashed or were damaged beyond repair. On the 8th April 1959, 78 Sqn lost two TP's in Aden after double engine failures caused by mishandling the fuel system.
PS. I have a list of all the serial numbers if anyone needs info.