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Dan Air Comet 4C incident - trying to trace

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Dan Air Comet 4C incident - trying to trace

Old 13th Jul 2006, 16:53
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Dan Air Comet 4C incident - trying to trace

Hi All

I was a passenger on a Dan Air flight back in 1978 (ish) that took off from Gatwick and was forced to return and land at Heathrow (emergency shutes, fire engines, etc) as a result of two engines being shut down after fire alarms. The aircraft was the oh so lovely Comet 4C, and the incident was very entertaining for a 12 year old lad (as I was at the time).

I am now trying to trace this flight and was wondering if anyone remembered it (wild chance I know) or knew of anyway I could track down air incident information for this flight.

I think the flight took place in March 1978 and was destined for Italy (Turin I think).

Any info gratefully received...

Cheers
Jon Ayre
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Old 13th Jul 2006, 18:04
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The 'official' Dan Air website has mention of a Comet 4B (not 4C) G-APMB making an emergency landing at Gatwick (rather than Heathow) on a flight from Manchester to Milan on 25th March 1978 following a double engine fire warning. A few differing details, but quite a lot of matching. Is this the flight?

http://www.danair.org/

Click 'Letters' button on the left then the 'Bryan Wyat' link & scroll down a bit.


There's also a paragraph about this incident for the Comet 4B G-APMB in Martin Painter's excellent Comet book 'The DH106 Comet - an Illustrated History'
G-APMB also has special meaning for me as it was the last Comet I ever flew on way back in 1977 when I was a kid. This Comet survived at Gatwick until about a year ago.
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Old 13th Jul 2006, 18:34
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Cool

To be able to help with your inquiry you will need to narrow down the information you have so far given.
During the 70's Dan-Air operated a large fleet of DH106's.
Of the 51 that Dan-Air had bought over time, many were scourced for parts and then scrapped, not even entering service.
By the late 70's the fleet was being scaled down.
Comets in service with Dan-Air in:
1970 12
1971 14
1972 19
1973 22
1974 14
1975 19
1976 18
1977 17
1978 13
1979 7
1980 4
The following airframes were still flying for Dan-Air during 1978:
GBDIF 4C Last service 5/11/79
GBDIX 4c 17/10/80
GBDIW 4c 9/10/80
GBDIV 4c 12/11/80
GBDIT 4c 13/10/80
GBDIU 4C 6/10/80
GARCP 4B 23/10/78 RE-REGISTERED GBBUV
GAYWX 4C 2/5/78
GAPZM 4B 14/11/78
GAPYD 4B 23/10/79
GAPYC 4B 4/12/78
GAPME 4B 2/5/78
GAPMB 4B 28/12/78

It is unlikely that you will be able to identify which aircraft you flew on unless you have access to more detailed Dan-Air operational info which I imagine no longer exists.
Engineering and crew records may help if those could be located. I guess that after 28 years that is unlikely.

Good luck with your search

Fenders
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Old 14th Jul 2006, 02:14
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I recall sharing the night sky with Dan Comet freighters 79/81
Was it a rumour they had applied for a dispensation to cruise them on 2?
I did hear(bar-room blether) that is was being done on the QT.
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Old 14th Jul 2006, 08:16
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Freighters? Not sure they were ever used for cargo ?
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Old 14th Jul 2006, 14:36
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That's the One!

Cheers DH106 - that is the flight (and my Dad was one of the people the pilot had to "encourage" to let go of his baggage). We were going on a skiing holiday, and he had bought a whole stack of cheap alcohol in the duty free shop - no way he was letting that out of his sight.

Never though it would be that easy to track down, and full witness statements too! Great stuff. I have fond memories of that flight (it was the most interesting I've been on) and now at least I can get the facts right.

The follow up flight was on a DC10 which was redirected to Turin. A famous Italian politician had been kidnapped just over a week earlier by the Red Brigade (15th March 1978) and all flights were met at Turin by armed military and held for longer than usual while extra identity and luggage checks were performed.

Thanks again.
Jon Ayre
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Old 14th Jul 2006, 19:24
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I can concur with DH106 - the DA Comets were never in freighter config only PAX.
I can also dispel the bar-room rumour that they were flown on 2 as well
how that happy juice makes mouths wag egh.....
So happens I know the chap who flew that Manchester diverted Gatwick flight. He was not long checked-out as a Captain when that incident happened.
TG
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Old 14th Jul 2006, 19:49
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Bryan Wyat?
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Old 14th Jul 2006, 20:00
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It's a spelling mistake by yourself:
Click 'Letters' button on the left then the 'Bryan Wyat' link & scroll down a bit.
Bryn Wayt is the correct version.

Cheers

TG
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Old 14th Jul 2006, 20:35
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Yes - you're quite right, my appologies :-)
It's all too easy to quickly scan and pick up a wrong spelling!

Must be great to know somebody that flew the Comet!
I can vividly remember standing on the flightdeck of the same aircraft as in the above story - G-APMB, as a kid of 12 returning with family from a hol. in Menorca, who'd shyly asked the stewardess if he could see the cockpit. I stood there for about 15 mins transfixed at the view, a fantastic vivid memory.
Mahon to Birmingham, June 1977. DA2691 I think.
Perhaps it was Bryn at the controls !
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Old 14th Jul 2006, 20:59
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I know quite a few ex DA Comet chaps, I'll ask around and see if they flew that sector........... I'll ask Bryn too!

TG
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Old 14th Jul 2006, 21:40
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Thanks TG that'd be great if they've still got their log books from so long ago ! :-)

I actually still have the flight ticket, and after rooting it out I've found it was DA2689 (NOT DA2691 as I wrongly remembered above), 17th June 1977, Mahon-Birmingham
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Old 15th Jul 2006, 02:28
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Apologies thought the Comets were being used as a freighter...but ...Tartan could it have been that Dan was considering using them as a freighter and were looking at using a 2 engine crze config?
Does the RAF use that on the Nims?
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Old 15th Jul 2006, 11:34
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I think the Nimrod does do a 2 engine loiter when on maritime reconnaissance, but the Nim has more powerful RR Speys rather than the Comet's Avons
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Old 15th Jul 2006, 11:49
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No way!

Hi tinpis,
There's no way DA were considering the Comets as freighters.
The airline industry even back then was flush with dedicated cargo hulls.
The Comets were bought cheap for the specific purpose of moving people using various holiday charter agreements.
Even an amateur looking at the comparison between the profit margin in moving freight or people (on a charter flight) showed there was more to be gained by keeping the hull in PAX config.
DA did have a cargo operation of sorts with the B707 but as you probably know the cargo market back then was littered with airlines that went bust because they only dealt with cargo. Anglo Cargo Airlines, Scimitar, Red Coat.
Another try on the cargo front was a DA HS748 (G-BIUV) converted to a cargo aircraft. There's a great book titled, "The Spirit of Dan Air" (15) and on page 103 is a black and white photo of a jet engine being loaded in through the big twin-doors. Of course some of the standard 748 pax version was used during the night as freighters for the Post Office, and then converted back to the PAX version for the inter-city runs during the day.
The DeH Comet's that DA bought were not economical back then and it was folly to think of them trying to break even by running them on two engines whilst even considering a freighter role for one or two.
I can vouch that the RAF Nimrods did cruise around on two engines at low level (eg below 10,000') - when below the critical weight - whilst on recce patrols.
I know of an instance when running on two, a BEAR (Russian LRMP aircraft) arrived on scene and it outran the Nimrod, whilst the other two engines were lit to give chase!
I cannot vouch what the current version of the Nimrod does to conserve fuel in loiter situations.
TG
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Old 15th Jul 2006, 16:52
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Originally Posted by Tartan Giant
I know of an instance when running on two, a BEAR (Russian LRMP aircraft) arrived on scene and it outran the Nimrod, whilst the other two engines were lit to give chase!
I cannot vouch what the current version of the Nimrod does to conserve fuel in loiter situations.
TG

Good info, thanks TG.
The Bear is no slouch though - the Tu114 airliner which was derived from it still holds the fastest propeller airliner record at 500+ mph. Both have 4 of the mighty Kuznetsov NK12 turboprop engines, 15,000hp each
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Old 15th Jul 2006, 21:51
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Are you sitting down?

Hi DH105,
Are you sitting down? You are not going to believe this!
It's a chance in a few million I would guess, but BRYN did fly you that day..........
He was a First Officer back then, based in Manchester and was in the RHS with Captain Graham Strydom in Command.
Manchester crews did detachments from their main base to several important outstations, that detachment was part of his June roster!
In the exchange of emails he has given permission to upload this page from his log-book The perfect proof - one page.
[IMG][/IMG]
As you can see, he landed the machine at BHX that day, so he was well and truly at the controls.
Also note that on arrival at MAHON there was a three hour ATC delay before the flight back to BHX.
Imagine two flights and the trace is perfect - how good is PPruNe?
TG
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Old 16th Jul 2006, 18:19
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TG - that's fantasitc information! Thanks for the logbook image

And just to confirm it IS indeed the correct flight - now that you've jogged my memory there was indeed a long delay at Mahon before we got airbourne.
I think it was something to do with an ATC problem - maybe they were on strike or something. We passengers spent at least the last hour of the delay waiting in the sweltering plane with the doors open to try and get a draft through (did Comets have air conditioning that was operative on the ground ? G-APMB certainly didn't that day !). It was HOT!
From memory, I think the pilots were waiting for a slot which would become available at short notice hence we all had to wait on the plane.

Many thanks TG, and please pass on my sincere thanks to Bryn
And thank him for being so friendly on the flightdeck to a 12 year old kid, although I think it was mainly the captain I spoke to.

Here's an image (taken by my Dad) at the end of said flight, at BHX on 17.06.77 with good old G-APMB. I'm the sprat on the far right with the red carrier bag cavorting for the camera. It's amazing - Bryn is probably sitting just out of sight behind the visible open co-pilot's window.


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Old 16th Jul 2006, 21:41
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Nice photo too

Hello DH106
ATC problems were a constant threat those many years ago - so I reckon you were caught up it one.
Having all the passengers on board and the baggage locked in the holds meant that the aircraft was ready almost immediately to take any slot that happened to come up. This could happen if somebody else, even on another island eg PMI, could not make his slot because of lost baggage, or pax, or tech snag.
Note Bryn copped another delay down in Alicante the next day!
The Comet did not have any of its own AIR CON on the ground, unlike modern machines with their own APU which can drive a cold air unit to supply cooling ram air.
The Comet "trick" was to open all the doors, and indeed 'pop' the overwing emergency, exits to get some/any through draft.
I'll pass on your message.
Cheers
TG
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Old 17th Jul 2006, 15:12
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Note Bryn copped another delay down in Alicante the next day
TG - is that why he was called 'Bryn Wayt'?

DH106 - I suspect a Bear was slower than a Nimrod by a long way at sea level. I think you'll find the '500mph' is TAS at high level.
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