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Comet 4 at BOAC

Old 27th Oct 2011, 16:36
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London UK
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I'm just amazed that they were training apprentices on an Argonaut long after piston-engined aircraft were given up in the fleet. Were there secret bulk stores of Avgas and spark plugs that just had to be used up ?
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Old 27th Oct 2011, 17:57
  #22 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: UK
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As a BOAC apprentice 1960 to 1965 I remember the Argonaut fondly. It was retained for engine /airframe apprentices to get some piston engine experience which was at that time required for their City and Guilds exams.
There was no problem with Avgas as piston powered airliners were operating into Heathrow, and indeed Aden Airways were operating Argonauts into Heathrow. We left our old Argonaut one Friday ,but when we came back on the Monday the flaps were hanging down because Aden airways had pinched one flap jack over the weekend to get their aircraft serviceable.Also we used to chain our ground power unit to the nose leg as British Eagle had in the past used it over the weekend only to leave it with no fuel.

The Argonaut training was run by an old Overseas Engineer, by the name of George Tippings who would lecture us for an hour or so about all the safety requirements [Chocks, ground power , fire Guards, prop Guards etc] before one would run the engine, and often he would be driven mad by some Connie engineers, who during this lecture, would walk out to their Connie and with none of the above precautions crank the engines up the aircraft batteries,resulting in huge clouds of smoke and loud cheers from the apprentices.

Little did I realize that I would be doing the same on a Connie some 40 years later.

During the last two years of my apprenticeship I spent on Comet /VC-10
major and then minor maintenance, and while on Majors spent a lot of time in the old Comet's Pod fuel tank for which you got a shilling a day extra pay and a free pint of milk to take the taste of fuel away. As you left the bottle of milk on the stand just outside the tank it was most times pinched for the hanger tea swindle.

Happy times

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Old 27th Oct 2011, 19:57
  #23 (permalink)  
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We lived in the Sudan 1958 to 1961, and I have fond memories of the BOAC Comet 4's arriving and departing from Khartoum Airport where they stopped on the London - Jo'burg run, along with the Britannia 102's.

Khartoum was a busy transit stop in those days as virtually all Europe to East and South Africa flights stopped to refuel. There was also a big expat community. The rooftop terrace of the airport restaurant was a favourite place for dinner or drinks (Khartoum had a brewery in those days!) and I remember some of the early Comet 4 flights passing through. People would stand up and cheer when the Comets arrived or departed! Most of the aviation activity seemed to take place in the evening to early morning. The explanation give by local wags was that they had to because the runway melted during the daytime, such were the extremely high temperatures! The take-off noise was thrilling of course, pure turbojets, quite novel in those days.

As well as BOAC, I can remember KLM, Alitalia, Ethiopian DC6B's, Lufthansa Super Connies, Swissair DC7C's, South African DC7B's, Air Liban DC6B's, plus numerous charter airlines such as Hunting Clan which operated the Africargo DC6 freighters, Viscounts, and Britannia 300's. The local carrier was Sudan Airways which operated DC3's and Doves plus the "Blue NIle Viscount" on the Gatwick run. We got to fly in all of these. The local crews were invariably very jovial Brits (or so they seemed to me) who would let you sit in the co-pilot's seat during the flight, as I did myself on a Khartoum-Port Sudan run.

Sadly I never got to fly in the Comet 4's although in later years I had some flights in BEA Comet 4B's to Spain. Lovely smooth aircraft, very stable (at least from the pax point of view) and most elegant.
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Old 27th Oct 2011, 20:04
  #24 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 4,875
as it was on the way to the crew hotel (Juhu Beach?).
I went to the Sun n Sand hotel in Juhu Beach in 1962. It was there that I saw my last Liberator flying. An Indian Navy one approaching Juhu Airfield.
From the swimming pool, obviously.

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Old 29th Oct 2011, 00:12
  #25 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: In "BIG SKY".
Age: 81
Posts: 418
The apprentice Comet had an interesting flight from Mexico on delivery. The Mexican crew consisted of 3 training Captains and no proper Flight Engineer.
Mexicana did not have any navigators so Jimmy Nightingale (of game park fame) who was working in the navigation office at the time, was sent to navigate the thing across the pond.

On the approach to Gander there was a fire warning, upon which the captain occupying the F/E seat made a curse in Spanish and removed the fire warning relay for the offending engine. They were located in the doorway to the cockpit. He said to Jimmy "they are always a problem"!!

A few days after the airplane had arrived at LHR Jimmy got a call from maintenance and was asked to come to the hangar where the Comet was parked. When he got there they showed him the hole/crack in the side of the engine that had caused the REAL fire warning!! Fly Mexicana!!!!!

Speedbird 48.
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Old 29th Oct 2011, 11:35
  #26 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Cornwall UK
Age: 75
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I didn't work for BOAC/BEA but if I remember correctly the Argonaut and Comet used for Apprentice training were parked near the Harlington Corner-Hatton Cross road through the hangar area which you could access by public bus!

G-ALHJ by David Whitworth, on Flickr

BOAC 1971 Apprentices2 by topemup, on Flickr

the Argonaut ended up on fire-training by Perry Oaks Sludge Works...now T5?....what of the Comet?

Air-Britain : G-ALHJ

Last edited by A30yoyo; 29th Oct 2011 at 11:45.
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