View Full Version : Handley Page Hermes TV Feb 12th

John (Gary) Cooper
7th Feb 2003, 20:30
Handley Page Hermes G-ALDN
Forced landing 150 miles SE Port Etienne South West Africa after straying off course by hundreds of miles, nearly out of fuel on 26th May 1952.

Absolutely fascinating story being shown on:

BBC2 TV February 12th 2003 at 2100hrs

Be there!:p

12th Feb 2003, 23:30
Yes, a good programme, well told, with no glaring inaccuracies, for once.

The navigator's fudging his astro shots to comply with where he thought he was became a classic, hammered in to new entrants at Cranebank.

I think the reason they dismissed the captain was for failing to take timely action when it became obvious they were lost.

The Hermes type did not meet its payload/range specifications and was in the process of being replaced by the Canadair Argonaut.

My wife joined BOAC as a stewardess in 1971 and remembers that Len Smee, the senior steward, was still around.

John (Gary) Cooper
13th Feb 2003, 07:04
Fascinating programme, well researched and linked between events and the 'salvage' by the BBC. Sad ending for co's wife.

I had the occasion to fly from Blackbushe to Paya Lebar in Hermes G-ALDC and arrived Singapore the day before Man United's Munich Elizabethan disaster. 3 days in Ankara cracked starboard oleo leg on landing on snow covered airport.

The trip in all took 10 days, luxurious fittings by Hastings standards, the company operating G-ALDC was Airwork Ltd with tiny letters under the tailplane: B.O.A.C.

Only example is at Duxford minus wings. :rolleyes:

13th Feb 2003, 08:33
The TV said it was derived from the Halifax bomber - I thought the Halton was a civilianised Halifax and the Hermes was a civiliianised Hastings ??

The Duxford aircraft is a Hastings (?) and is complete and on its wheels.

An interesting programme, I'd never heard of the event. Shame the wreck was cannabalised a few years ago.

John (Gary) Cooper
13th Feb 2003, 08:53

The latest edition of Aeroplane features G-ALDN.

The Hermes at Duxford IS 'grounded' ie no wheels/ wings, the Hastings tail dragger is TG528 on static.

Interesting read 'Hastings and Hermes' by Victor F Bingham by GMS Enterprises ISBN 1 870384 63 6

13th Feb 2003, 08:58

Duxford have a Hermes fuselage too - G-ALDG(Horsa).

13th Feb 2003, 09:03
I stand corrected - Thanks! :O

13th Feb 2003, 10:19
Speechless, that's the one, I think BCAL used it for training cabin crew.

Pity the fire training Argonaut at LHR wasn't salvable as well!

Good programme, the animations were very nicely done! But, when the aircraft was filmed from behind starting up at night, was that animiation, or were they actually filming an Air Atlantique DC-6? Not a criticism, just curious - looked too realistic to be an animation!

Now, Halifax/Halton/Hastings/Hermes. Haven't they incorporated Hastings wings into the Friday 13th Halifax rebuild at Elvington? I think the basic wing was the same?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
13th Feb 2003, 11:59
But, when the aircraft was filmed from behind starting up at night, was that animiation, or were they actually filming an Air Atlantique DC-6?

I'd bet that was for real. It was far too accurate for an animation - the smoke was 'just right', and the sound of a big radial rumbling into gardual self-sustaining running was glorious. Animators just aren't that good with the fine detail of aeroplane sounds and effects.


13th Feb 2003, 12:23
I reckon it was a real aeroplane starting up, DC-6 as mentioned above.

Friday 13th does indeed have Hastings wings as they are structurally very similar to the Halifax / Hastings wings.

All in all a very good program I thought with surprisingly lifelike animations. I also enjoyed Len Smee's crash instructions to the passengers.

13th Feb 2003, 13:00
Reference the 'missing' fuselage - when I first read about this incident many years ago, it was said then that the bedouins had stripped the aircraft, and there was basically nothing remaining.

Judging by what was discovered when they excavated the starboard wing and found only the engines and landing gear, I would hazard a guess that the sand and wind had eroded away all aluminium parts that were not substantial - If a scavenger had cut away the skin himself, he would not have been able to walk off with big lumps like frames and spars. There seemed to be quite a bit of discoloured sand about, which I reckon is all that was left of the alloy. I'm sure that the bedouins did take all that they could remove with their bare hands, but after 48 years in the desert I can't imagine there would be any ali remaining.

Good twist at the end about the baby!

Biggles Flies Undone
13th Feb 2003, 15:01
Very enjoyable programme with a nice twist at the end. Can only try to imagine how the co-pilot's widow felt as she stood by his grave in the oasis 50 years on - surely the last time she will be that close to him in this lifetime.

There was a good article about this trip in one of the mags (Aeroplane?) last Easter.

13th Feb 2003, 18:12
Arrrrrghhh I had to go out before the end. What was the twist about the baby.!!

All in all an excellent programme.

13th Feb 2003, 21:00
The Captain, Bob Langley was given a job by Freddie Laker at Southend shortly after this incident and gave sterling service with Air Charter for many years flying B170's DC4's and as I recall
performed the first flight of the Carvair conversion (GANYB) at Southend in the early sixties. He was fondly known as "waffle chops" by ATC as he was very verbose on the RT!!
Those were the days!!:D :D

13th Feb 2003, 22:33
Like the other posters, I enjoyed this documentary.

It was made all the more interesting, as my mother was a stewardess for BOAC, and was at Kano - she had been due to be on the next leg 'DN was operating...

The documentary made me think what could have been.

She worked for BOAC throughout the 50s, flying Hermes, Argonauts, DC7Cs and Britannias.
A rather more glamouress and enjoyable occupation than seems nowadays!

14th Feb 2003, 12:28
Sorry, maybe should have explained the twist at the end.......one of the pax was a v.young child, probably only a few months old. He managed quite well and suffered no ill effects. At the end of the programme the co-pilot's widow and one of the 'diggers' were talking to the head man of a local village who had attended the scene in 1953. She showed him the baby's photo and asked if he remembered the littl 'un.

Yes, he had....well, here he is, she said, and introduced the digger, who had come back to the crash after 50 years to re-visit!

John (Gary) Cooper
14th Feb 2003, 13:28
.........sadly the young childs mother died in a car crash about a year after the Hermes crash in 1952, ironic really.

A further footnote was how remarkably sturdy both the Hermes and Hastings aircraft were, a credit to the design team under Sir Frederick Handley Page.

14th Feb 2003, 16:17
The start sequence was one of Atlantiques DC-6's got a mention in the credits :D
I guess for the internal shots they used the duxford hermes?

14th Feb 2003, 21:36
Yes, the start up was of one of Air Atlantique's DC-6s, G-APSA. The film of the crew walking out to the aircraft actually included the crew used for the filming.

15th Feb 2003, 14:33
I too heard many years ago that the aircraft had been stripped of much of its aluminium very soon after the accident.
Apparently, when BOAC went to claim on the aircraft's insurance, the insurers took one look at all those excellent photographs and refused to pay up for the loss as they judged the aircraft salvageable. So they mounted an expensive expedition into the desert to carry out a salvage survey, and when the team arrived there wasn't very much left to assess!
A case of throwing good money after bad, if ever there was one.