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Connies at RAF Northolt. Anybody know ?

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Connies at RAF Northolt. Anybody know ?

Old 16th Aug 2008, 15:15
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Connies at RAF Northolt. Anybody know ?

Posted this on the spotter's forum, but alas no answers forthcoming, so perhaps this is the better place to ask Cut and paste of post....

Whilst reading the thread on the use of runway 23 at LHR, there was mention of a very near airprox between an Olympic 727 and an Indian Air Force Constellation.

This got the grey matter moving and I seem to remember seeing a few IAF connies in the 1970's (and possibly some Pakistan AirForce examples as well) at RAF Northolt. Now this is perhaps a question for the aviation history forum, but perhaps not. I was wondering why the connies were regular visitors into London when Air India was flying daily (as today) with enough capacity to cover diplomatic movements and so on.

Was it a staging post to re-supply their UN mission in New York or some such ? A shame that at the time we never appreciated how rich and varied the aircraft were in comparison to today.....

Coincidentally, i was floating by Sion (LSGS) airport a few days ago and was happily suprised to see the Breitling Connie sitting in the sun looking magnificent. Ahhhh.....


Regards


SHJ
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Old 17th Aug 2008, 14:22
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93 views and no one who can offer any information ? Come on chaps, you're usually such a wonderful mine of information. Some of the 'old lags' must've even been there and/or had something to do with these aircraft.


Regards


SHJ


More descriptive thread names work wonders
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 06:57
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L-1049G VT-DHL 6/62 became BG-580 Indian AF MR, then 11/76 IN-317
Indian Navy, operated to 1983. DHM/BG-575/IN-315. DHN/BG-577. DIM/BG-576/IN-316. DJW/BG-583. DJX/BG-579. L-1049C VT-DGL/BG-581/IN-318. DGM/BG-582/IN-319. Occasional NLT visitors.
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 10:53
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Northolt Connie's

The Indian Air Force Connies were regular NHT visitors (at least monthly) in 60's and early 70's. My understanding was that they were for the Indian High Commision in London, but I am not sure why they did the trip rather than the passengers taking Air India.
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 11:21
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Short history of IAF Connies HERE.
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 14:44
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Thanks for the replies, the information supplied would seem to answer my question. Was I mistaken in thinking that I had seen Pakistan Air Force connies also ?


Regards


SHJ
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 17:54
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I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Indian AF only used two Connies on this route, ie BG579 and BG583. On one occasion in the early/mid 60's they used another (possibly something with '777', but I can't be sure) but that was just a one-off.

I was wondering a few months back why they visited, and thought that it might be for spares collection for their Hunter and Canberra fleets, but it seems not from one of the posts above.

I have very good memories of them visiting Northolt, I lived just to the south of the airfield, maybe 1 mile as the crow flies. I can remember hearing the wonderful 'roar' of the engines as the aircraft landed, and then hearing the squealing from the nose-wheel as it taxied around. Ahhh, bliss!

I will try to dig out the references to them and maybe post it here. I think the article mentioned when they started (early 60s), and I should be able to work out when the last one visited.

Anybody got any photo's of them?

I have a photo of the Indian navy one (IN315) in the museum at Goa/Dabolim. Should I post?
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 19:35
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Thanks for the additional info Geezers

I have a photo of the Indian navy one (IN315) in the museum at Goa/Dabolim. Should I post?
Of course! No objections here.


Regards


SHJ
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 20:39
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Some nice pictures of Indian Navy Connies around mid 80's in Osprey's "Sky Trucks 2" by the late Stephen Piercey. Also try back issues of "Propliner " magazine,they have a web site just Google.
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 00:08
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I was based at Northolt when the Indians started to run the 1049's in there. The first few trips had Air India Captains and Flight Engineers to train the Air Force crews.

They normally came from Orly and went back that way. They carried spares, for refurbishing in the UK, from Hunters and Canberras etc. And I am sure supplies for the embassy and their friends in Southall!!

One arrived one day covered with more oil than usual and the RAF ground crew put 29galls!!! in one engine!! It was insisted that the cowlings were opened, and when they were all the rocker covers were off and held in place on one stud following the last inspection in Bombay!! The calls and letters regarding oiled laundry in Harrow etc. followed!!

They also came in with Fairchild C119's that carried Avon engines for refurbishing. Their departures were always interesting!!!!!!!!!!! As was the Christmas Eve' arrival that ended in the mud close to the A40!!

Speedbird 48.
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 08:19
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Thank you, forget, for the link. I really did see a Liberator flying around Bombay in 1962.
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 10:38
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Ah yes, the IAF Super Connies. I remember one on the ground at Northolt in summer 1968 or 1969. Hearing the Connie check in on London Approach on my VHF radio, I duly drove down there in our 1961 Mini (I had just learned to drive, so the drive in itself was quite a big deal for me). Even in the late 60's, Connies were getting quite rare. Arriving at Northolt, I simply parked the Mini next to the fence, walked through a gate and spent around 15 minutes on the tarmac photographing the Connie. No-one about and no questions asked! In fact, I was able to walk right up to the aircraft and get some close-up shots of the Wright R3350's. I've got the colour sides somewhere, so I'll try and find them and add them to the thread.

Some of the ex-Air India Super G's were flying up to January 1984. The remaining machines flew on VIP missions for the Indian Navy and were based at Pune, east of Bombay. Heavy maintenance was still carried out by Air India to the end; they even had a "L1049G Maintenance" department at their engineering base at Bombay airport until early 1984, and the aircraft regularly flew in and out of Bombay up to then. Continuous Connie maintenance from 1948 to 1984!! I think the last remaining machine was BG579, but I'm not absolutely sure of that.

My first recollection of an Air-India Super G was at Cairo airport on 30/09/58. We disembarked from our KLM DC6B at around midnight and the Connie was parked next to us. It looked magnificent, the biggest aircraft I had ever seen to my 7-year old eyes. The Super Connie and Starliner are still my favourite aircraft of all time.
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 15:26
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Okay, found the notes concerning the Indian AF visits ...

they started (at Northolt) in 1962, replacing Indian AF C-119Gs. They only ever used the two a/c listed above for the trip, except on one occasion (May '67) BG577 coded 'C' made a single visit. Their last visit appears to have been in late 1973 (I might be able to dig out exact dates?).

I was meaning to ask where the operated to/from en-route to Northolt, as I can't imagine they would be able to operate India-London non-stop. From the above messages they seem to have come via Paris/Orly and Cairo.

Further to the original post. I am 95% certain that Indian Navy Connies never made it to the UK, or London, or Northolt; but if anyone can provide a date when the saw one then I'm happy to be corrected.

(still trying to work out how to post a picture into this thread)
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 15:37
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Thanks for the replies, the information supplied would seem to answer my question. Was I mistaken in thinking that I had seen Pakistan Air Force connies also ?


Regards


SHJ
SHJ your memory matches mine.

The PAF used to send Connies (somewhat rarer than the Indian ones which were, more or less, scheduled visitors). I recall their visits were sometimes notable for the chaos they could cause Heathrow and Northolt due to the apparent inability of some of their crews to cope with navigation and communication requirements in the crowded airspace. I was in the jump seat of a Viscount out of LHR in 1972 (Kestrel G-AVJB for the record) that had to hold whilst ATC extracted a wayward PAF aircraft (pretty sure it was a Connie but not 100%) from our SID route. The co-pilot of the Viscount was a Pakistani national who was suitably unimpressed with the skills of his countrymen!

The other Connies at Northolt were, of course, occasional US Military C-121s to supplement the regular parade of ("boring"!!!) C-47, C-54, C-117, C-131, C-118, T-29 and T-39 types.
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 16:44
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ISTR that an Indian Connie, not sure whether it was civil or military, had a very near miss with a high gasometer (at Brentford?) whilst on the approach to Northolt or LHR. It was in the news at the time (early 1960's?).

Sorry if it's a bit vague but it's one of the facts that stick in my memory.

Anyone able to confirm this?

Addendum

Is this the one I'm thinking of, mentioned in post no 1 by SHJ, but in detail on the AAIB web site here. However, it doesn't mention a near miss with a gasometer.

http://www.aaib.gov.uk/cms_resources...d%20SX-CBB.pdf

Last edited by Warmtoast; 19th Aug 2008 at 16:59. Reason: To add link to AAIB Report
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 17:01
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There was a near miss with an Indian Air Force Connie over Heathrow about that time.
But the only Northolt gasholder incident I can recall was when Pan Am mistook it for the LHR one.
Ron Gosse was the supervisor at LHR the next morning to hear his desk man question Pan Am's first flight of the day; "Good Morning Clipper. And where would the world's most experienced airline like to land this morning?"
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 19:06
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I believe large arrows were painted on the gas holder left for LAP and right for Northolt. A Pan Am 707 landed at Northolt by mistake . It was ferried out after removing all of the seats and surplus weight.
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 20:27
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I believe large arrows were painted on the gas holder left for LAP and right for Northolt.
Thought there was an 'L' & 'N' painted either side of it on the easterly approaches?
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 20:52
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Here is the famous Pan Am 707 on the ground at and then taking off from Northolt:

Boeing 707-321, N725PA, Pan American World Airways (PA / PAA)
Boeing 707-321, N725PA, Pan American World Airways (PA / PAA)

And an Indian AF Super Connie landing there:

Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation, BG579, Indian Air Force
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 22:47
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had a very near miss with a high gasometer (at Brentford?) whilst on the approach to Northolt or LHR. It was in the news at the time (early 1960's?).
Having read the AAIB Report mentioned in my post above it is clear my memory is at fault and mistook the near-miss of to the church steeple at Harrow-on-the-Hill church for a near-miss to a Gasometer. And it took place in January 1970.

The AAIB report remarks on how close the IAF Connie was to the ground - 77ft above the church steeple!

In the event the GCA controller noticed, as the aircraft came into the coverage of his precision display, that it was apparently low on the approach whereupon he took the correct immediate action in instructing the pilot to climb as soon as he had confirmed by R/T that the aircraft was indeed very low. This action may well have prevented a serious accident occurring in a heavily populated area. There was no acknowledgement from the aircraft of the first instruction to climb to 1,350 feet. Some 23 seconds later, during which time the aircraft would have travelled nearly a mile towards the high ground, the GCA controller repeated his urgent instruction to “climb immediately” adding the instruction to make a left hand orbit and continue the climb to 1,500 feet.

With the aircraft 500 feet above Northolt a detailed analysis of the area showed that the aircraft would have been 77 feet above the Harrow-on-the-Hill church spire and 200 feet above the general terrain. Nevertheless, for this stage of the approach the aircraft was far too low.
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