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Vickers Viscount-Aviation's Aristocracy

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Vickers Viscount-Aviation's Aristocracy

Old 30th May 2011, 13:05
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Vickers Viscount-Aviation's Aristocracy

Hi all,

Ive flown on the same Vickers Viscount both as a kid ( in 1972) and as an adult ( in 1996). G-APEY is the machine, and it flew off away from Britain's shores back in 1997 for a new life in Africa. Its possible that there is one airworthy specimen left, out of a build of 4 1/2 hundred. First flown in 1948, and several still in use in Africa until a few years ago ( with the possible aformentioned airworthy one left?) the Viscount had a wonderful sound, and looked graceful flying overhead. Many people's first holiday flight was on a Viscount, going to the Sun.

Any flight stories, as Pilots or Cabin crew, from these magnificent aircraft? Your input would be much enjoyed! Most people who know nothing about aircraft that Ive talked to, usually pipe up with a comment like " Oh! I flew on a Viscount!"--its well remembered.

My first flight on G-APEY , a longer bodied 800 series, was in 1972 on B.E.A , replacing a Trident3 which had gone u/s , and the massive windows and shrill sound of the Rolls-Royce Darts were never to be forgotten by me. I had the chance to fly again on her again in 1996, when British Air Ferries were stopping passenger flights and converting all of their Viscounts to cargofreighter specification . It was also successful in breaking sales to the U.S.A. and China ( final production in 1964 of 1/2 a dozen aircraft going there for C.A.A.C.).
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 07:54
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I agree; a splendid aircraft was the Viscount. I flew as a passenger in G-BAPF an ex-South African airways machine that ended up in the BMA fleet. It was the early 1980's and I flew on it a number of times from LHR to LBA. I was at Brooklands museum earlier this week with my young daughter and we boarded the former British Air Ferries Viscount that is preserved; sadly no engines will run on this machine; but they do have some sound of a Viscount engine they occasionally play through the old P/A system!

It would be nice to see an airworthy Viscount fly; I guess the chances in the UK are zero; but maybe in Southern Africa? Even if its just fast taxi runs; just to hear those Rolls Royce Dart's screaming away, marvelous!

What an adventure perhaps to get one airworthy and fly her home to the UK? Now there's a thought!
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 08:01
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I flew on CAA, Air Rhodesia and SAA Viscounts. Magnificent machines which had personality and charisma. Sadly two of RH's were shot down by terrorist murderers, whose successors are still in power in the country.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 08:09
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I flew on BEA Viscounts a couple of times and worked with them whilst abroad. Great crews and I daren't relate any of the stories on here! Wonder what happened to Capt Bert Orris..?
The Viscount was an infinitely better looking aircraft than the great lard-bag the Trident and must have been the last civil airliner produced in such a large quantity in the UK.
Old 5th Jun 2011, 10:46
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As young-ish SLF I flew to Germany a few times and will always remember those wonderful windows which were the closest thing to actually sitting outside! Would be wonderful to see one flying again...........

Boscombe Down had a rasberry ripple one with a pointy FJ radar nose that used to fly extremely low level over Norfolk/Suffolk back in the late 70's. Anyone got pics of that machine?

And that strident Dart note.......
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 11:11
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I also agree that the Viscount was a charismatic aircraft, never to be forgotten once you had flown in one. My initial trip was in 1964 to Guernsey, for a first visit to my new girlfriend's home island. I checked in at BEA's West London Air Terminal in Cromwell Road, South Kensington. That was before the tube link direct to Heathrow was built, and was also well before all the world and his wife started travelling by air on low priced mass package holidays. The feeling of doing something special and dare I say it, "posh", was encouraged by the smart, modern air terminal and the swift dedicated BEA transport to Heathrow, with the luggage already checked in and towed behind the bus ready for loading on arrival.

Most passengers dressed smartly for the flight experience then, and the appearance and aura of the sleek and modern Viscount on boarding seemed to justify that sartorial effort. Big oval windows, comfortable seats, and that thrilling whine from the four Darts all combined to give the short-haul journey a tingling excitement sadly no longer felt nowadays, the novelty having long since worn off. Oh, and I was in a pleasant mood of anticipation at seeing my girlfriend, a student nurse in London, briefly home in Guernsey and waiting to show me around. During that blissful journey I couldn't resist putting down the drinks table and standing a 3d coin on edge on it (the old threepenny bit, pre-decimalisation). This was a popular gimmick to demonstrate the lack of vibration on turbo-props at that time. And it stayed upright, just as it should!

I've never forgotten that first Viscount experience, and like LAS1997 I entered the Brooklands example with a feeling of pleasant familiarity a couple of years ago. What memories it stirred! And I eventually married that young Guernsey nurse, so everything went perfectly ...
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 11:35
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Captain Bert Orris

Sadly Bert passed away a few years ago but still missed by those who knew him.A true gentleman.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 15:17
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BA Viscount 800 farewell tour to Kirkwall March 1982

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Old 6th Jun 2011, 09:24
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G-BAPF was an ex Lufthansa/Condor aircraft and was an 814 whereas the ex SAA machines were all 813s. The story goes that the then Mike Bishop went to SA and put in a bid for either one or two of their fleet and finished up with all seven plus a simulator and several tons of spares which helped keep BMA viable for a good few years.

I agree that they were a wonderful old aircraft. I flew them off and on for twenty years and still (I think) miss them.
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 11:00
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Thanks Boris; yes of course the BMA Viscount G-BAPF was indeed ex-Lufthansa. I flew over it a few weeks ago in a helicopter. It now rests at Morton-in-Marsh; the Home Office Fire Training College in Hot Air colours.
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 11:24
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Don't want to spoil the party but

I know this will get me into trouble (it has in the past) but an ex colleague of mine, who had been Chief Pilot with Aer Lingus (and had a very close association with Viscounts) thought that the aircraft was an absolute dog ‘redeemed only by the excellence of its engines’.
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 11:49
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Was he by any chance American trained? There was an American view that, "With 4 good enough engines you can fly a s***house door; you guys have managed to fly the entire s***house". Most of those who flew the Viscount on this side of the pond thought this was probably motivated by professional jealousy emanating from a rival US manufacturer.

We tend to forget what an incredible technical advance the Viscount was in the 50s (800 in particular). Dakota UK domestic block times were halved - often within a few minutes of what current jets achieve - and smoothness and pressurised comfort were simply in a different league. The 800 cockpit was the first in Britain to attempt an ergonomic layout.
As my earlier pic showed, they were still providing reliable service to the islands of Scotland till 1982.
I could go on!
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 19:52
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The mainstay of domestic flying during the 60's and 70's and a frequent visitor to most UK airports! So popular with numerous, mainly long gone, operators. Good looking, the unmistakeable sound of four darts and with those splendid windows a delightful mode of transport. Fond memories.
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 20:46
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My father used to work on Viscounts at Hurn airport back in the day. I've got some old pictures somewhere.
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 21:05
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That last shot was a magnificent picture, with a group of superb aircraft I remember well - and both the Viscount and the VC-10 in what I still think of as their 'proper' colours. When & where was it taken do you know?

The Viscount was one of my favourite airliners, with its large oval windows, lovely noise - and much greater speed & comfort than the old BEA Dakotas, even late on when used by Alidair (?) for oil charter flights to Shetland. (Though I also liked the Caravelle - it amazes me that the Brussels Air museum has an early model hanging from its ceiling ! Smaller than I recalled. )

And - ah VC-10s. Wonderful on the East Africa run.

My wife also flew quite a few times on a BOAC Viscount - "The Scottish Princess" . One of only two as far as I know, the other being "The Scottish Prince". One did the Scottish link runs from Prestwick, the other the Irish one.

Happy days.
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 21:39
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Ah Viscount - First time Gibraltar Airways to Tangier back in 1971.

Re Air Rhodesia see:Viscounts in Africa – The Air Rhodesia Story - Disasters - The Hunyani Disasterand The Umniati Disaster. The first of these produced one of the most powerful sermons from an Anglican Minister in Modern times see: The Silence is Deafening

Last edited by Opssys; 6th Jun 2011 at 21:40. Reason: Spelling
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 21:46
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Best of British

The aircraft was a major memory of my younger days - will any aircraft ever have such great big windows again? - I doubt it. My Mum returned from Paris on one in the first year of it's service 1953, - and I wish I had a pound for every flight I took on them in the 60s 70s and 80s. BA retired them from their regional fleets in 1985, but I recall two more return trips on this wonderful a/c at later dates.
In the late 80s and early 90s I worked (for my sins) in what is known as 'Corporate Hostility', sorry, correction, 'Hospitality'! and in the course of one of my trips in 1987 I took a group from Gibraltar, where we were staying, on a day trip to Tangier so that they could experience the shortest intercontinental flight twice in the one day. On our return I requested, and was granted, the cockpit jump seat, as any landing into Gib's short runway with the wet stuff at each end is always interesting.
My last-ever Viscount trip was another Corporate Away-Day to Le Touquet from Birmingham in 1990. On our return leg I was seated in the row where you could see all four props (noisy but nice if you're a fan). On leaving the a/c I put my head in the cockpit and told them that in the descent the no. 2 prop hub had iced up - and my last memory of this wonderful a/c as I walked away to the terminal was of the skipper peering out of the open cockpit window at the F/O now down on the ramp with his hand on no. 2 spinner to check if it was heating up!
Great airplane - Great Memories of the dear departed days when airline flying was a pleasure, unlike the post 9-11, crass, "security" dominated, "race to the bottom" missmanaged mass-misery experience de nos jours.
'Night all.
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Old 7th Jun 2011, 10:14
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"The 800 cockpit was the first in Britain to attempt an ergonomic layout"

And what a dismal failure that was !

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Old 7th Jun 2011, 10:49
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They made amends with the Guardsvan - the flight deck was as big as a football pitch!
Old 7th Jun 2011, 11:23
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And what a dismal failure that was !

Would you care to qualify that? Compared to what?
It might depend on what stage in the life of the Viscount (or your own) you experienced it. But in the 50s, it was a considerable advance over anything else available at the time.
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