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Smiths Industries, Staverton

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Smiths Industries, Staverton

Old 31st Mar 2013, 19:54
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Smiths Industries, Staverton

Am I right in thinking that Smiths Industries had a comms/development flight at Staverton in the 60's? I think they had a Valletta, among other types?
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Old 1st Apr 2013, 14:50
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.........I don't know about Staverton, but they did operate in and out of Luton. It may or may not have been a home base, but I recall seeing and hearing on RT what I took to be a Viking there a few times. It may have been on a calibration job, but routine calibration was normally carried out by 'Ministry' Doves as far as I recall. Cranfield a bit North was the sort of place for that kind of activity as well.

The reason that I remember is also that one blue sky day I was trundling peacefully around Hertfordshire in a Chipmunk, and met this Viking (Valetta? ) coming the other way. We were both VFR, but the Smiths driver grumbled that I was on his patch. I took early action to ensure that I kept well out of his path, but this still involved some further muttering on the phone later on. Maybe there was a notam out. I was about 18 at the time, so it was probably my fault. At that time, Luton, Hatfield, Radlett, and Elstree were fairly active and not all that far apart. Somewhere I have a photo taken at Luton that records a Canberra, Tiger Moth, and 749 Connie sharing the ramp. ( maybe it was called the dispersal in 1961)

Quite a few PPRuNers will have done courses with Smiths at Cheltenham. Mine in 1965 was for the amazing Smiths Flight System as fitted to the Britannia. ( still my favourite )
You could even do an auto-coupled ADF approach, but I don't remember anybody ever trying it. There was a fancy new one with real coloured bits for the Trident they kept talking about. I expect our course was about three days tacked onto the six weeks at Filton, but I think the school was more set up for deeper courses for the engineering and maintenance side.

My last years were on the 744 with more geeky novelties than a Samsung Android, but that 1950s vintage Smiths was so smooth and just as cool. Who thought up that trick of rotating the main compass system indicator so that your present heading and track info was at the bottom?.........brilliant...never a dull moment on ab-initio circuit training if it started to get boring.
Old 1st Apr 2013, 17:21
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I remember seeing G-ASJT a HS748 which had SMITHS AVIATION DIVISION titles.This would have been in the 1960s.

Last edited by MELLYMELL; 1st Apr 2013 at 17:22.
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Old 2nd Apr 2013, 06:45
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Smiths Varsity

Smiths did of course have Varsity G-ARFP for automatic landing research. As it didn't have the ventral "tub" it could possibly be confused for a Viking/Valetta in flight.
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Old 2nd Apr 2013, 08:50
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They also had Varsity G-APAZ (WF415) which they parked on the roof of a house in Gloucester on 27.03.63.
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Old 2nd Apr 2013, 12:05
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If you google ,there is a picture of a Dove/Devon,Vasity,and 748...
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Old 3rd Apr 2013, 09:28
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Smiths actually managed Staverton Airport, 1956-62. Comms hacks were Miles Gemini G-AKHY and DH Dove G-AOSE. In this period Autoland was a prime RAE Bedford/Blind Landing Experimental Unit programme, seen as helpful to the Medium Bomber and Strategic Transport (Belfast) fleets. Early work to 1964 was on Dakota G-AMZE; MoS provided Smiths Flying Unit with Varsity G-APAZ in 1958 and G-ARFP in 1962 as trials vehicles. Civil Cat. IIIa Certification was supported from 1963 by Smiths own 748, G-ASJT and achieved in 1967. That gave 12 ft. decision height: John Cunningham did final trials on Trident 2E G-AVFA and chose to demonstrate manual override on an auto approach with me as the rubber neck in the jump seat. A new meaning to surge.

Last edited by tornadoken; 3rd Apr 2013 at 09:29.
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Old 3rd Apr 2013, 14:44
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HS 748 G-ASTJ became XW750 at RAE Bedford (BLEU, FS2, FSS). IIRC it did not have an autoland capability until circa 1975 using a developed Series 6 autopilot.
BAC 1-11 XX105 also at Bedford, had a Series 5 autopilot/autoland as per the Trident, but only used two channels of the triplex system. Both the 748 and 1-11 had PVDs fitted at some stage and the aircraft were used for evaluating the Monohud concept (not Smiths). Latterly (1980?), XX105 was modified with the Smiths large format colour EFIS.
The Series 10 autopilot was flown in a Jetstream (Cranfield?) and possibly a late series HS 748; thence as fitted to the BAe146.
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Old 3rd Apr 2013, 20:27
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Some Smiths pictures here...

Smiths Aviation Division - a set on Flickr

The former Smiths hangar still exists. The original frame was refurbished and the building reclad last year and is home to a Global Express and a Challenger

Hangar SE3 Redevelopment | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
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