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VC10 records in 1987

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Old 24th Nov 2013, 18:18
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VC10 records in 1987

Apart from the flight that ZA147 flew non-stop to Perth there were a few other records set by VC10s in 1987. As far as we've been able to establish there were at least five, and probably six records that were set by two VC10s between the UK and the Falkland Islands over a period from 19 December to 22 December. One VC10 flew to Ascension Island on the 19th, continued on to Mount Pleasant on the 20th and flew back over the next two days via Ascension again. This netted four FAI ratified records for these stretches which were flown without using air-to-air refueling.

A second VC10 left the UK and flew non-stop to the Falklands, taking on fuel from ZA147 on the way over. This also was recorded as a record flight by the FAI. What we're not sure about is whether this happened again on the way back as we've not been able to find the details about this last record flight.

So now for the big question: who can fill in some more of the details about these flights? Specifically the details of the sixth flight from Mount Pleasant to the UK, the registrations of the VC10s involved and anything else worth mentioning.

I've already asked the FAI themselves but only three of these records are in their online database and they cannot dig through the archives just for this. I've got photos of the FAI certificates for the five flights mentioned above but these do not list the registrations. I do think that XV109 was one of the VC10s involved.
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Old 24th Nov 2013, 19:23
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One VC10 flew to Ascension Island on the 19th, continued on to Mount Pleasant on the 20th and flew back over the next two days via Ascension again. This netted four FAI ratified records for these stretches which were flown without using air-to-air refueling.
In 1985, for a period of six months, British Airways 747's operated to Mount Pleasant via Ascension. How do the VC10 times compare with the 747? For reference here are the sector times for one of my trips;

BZZ to ASI 8.20
ASI to MPN 7.30
MPN to ASI 7.30
ASI to BZZ 8.25

The turn-round times for the aircraft were 1.30 at ASI and 2.00 at MPN.

Edit.....the above times are 'chock-to-chock'. I'm afraid that I didn't record the flight times.

BTW.....we didn't use air-to-air refuelling either.

Last edited by Airclues; 24th Nov 2013 at 21:52. Reason: spelling
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Old 24th Nov 2013, 20:59
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Ascension-London time appears to have been about 8:09, according to here:

Fai Record File
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Old 24th Nov 2013, 22:46
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One VC10 flew to Ascension Island on the 19th, continued on to Mount Pleasant on the 20th and flew back over the next two days via Ascension again. This netted four FAI ratified records for these stretches which were flown without using air-to-air refueling.
BZN-ASI in a VC10 CMk1 without AAR? I don't think so...

My logbook records:

19 Dec 1987 VC10K3 ZA149 Capt: Self Co-pilot Flt Lt H*w**t Duty: OP MEDAL TRAIL 3:05 Day/ 0:10 Night 0:30 Act IF, 1 x ILS, 1 x landing.

As I recall it, we took off at 1300, followed by a VC10C1 to which we gave enough fuel somewhere in the SW Apps so that it could fly direct to ASI with island holding reserve.

The VC10C1 captain would have been the 101 Sqn Tanker Training Flight pilot on board (Dave M*l**r?), not a 10 Sqn captain (much to their annoyance) as there were no 10 Sqn AAR qualified pilots in those days.
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Old 25th Nov 2013, 09:14
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BEagle: It would appear that the FAI disagrees, and that there must have been another flight south on 19 Dec 87:

Fai Record File

And the matching certificate is annotated:

"Categorie A (sans ravitaillement en vol)"

And, as I understand, you are quite correct in stating that 10 Sqn pilots had not been AAR qualified by that time.
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Old 25th Nov 2013, 09:58
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When the FAI record says "London", does that mean Heathrow, or do the FAI assume that Brize Norton is near London?
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Old 25th Nov 2013, 11:45
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VC10 records in 1987

The FAI certificates all say London. I think that they routed overhead London, or as near as possible and started the timing from that point. On the other end they all end at Port Stanley and not Mount Pleasant so I'm guessing that the records were timed from overhead to overhead.
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Old 25th Nov 2013, 11:59
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Originally Posted by BEagle View Post

BZN-ASI in a VC10 CMk1 without AAR? I don't think so...

My logbook records:

19 Dec 1987 VC10K3 ZA149 Capt: Self Co-pilot Flt Lt H*w**t Duty: OP MEDAL TRAIL 3:05 Day/ 0:10 Night 0:30 Act IF, 1 x ILS, 1 x landing
Is it possible that the C1 took on enough fuel for the flight and then flew overhead London to start the record attempt? That would explain this refuelling then. When you say 'SW apps', where exactly would that be?

We've found another statement that also points towards a refuelling for the BZN-ASI sector but as the FAI certificates clearly say 'without' I took this as having been confused with the other non-stop flight.
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Old 25th Nov 2013, 16:36
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Well, LON to ASI via the great circle direct route wouldn't have been possible due to African overflight. So just nipping the tip of Africa via Gran Canaria and Dakar would mean distance of 3746 nm on a route similar to this:


FAI average speed equates to 445.114 kts, giving a flight time of 8:25. Add to that the requirement for island holding fuel and I'm still not sure how John managed it without AAR....

SW Apps = South West Approaches. Probably no further out into the Atlantic than 15W?

Last edited by BEagle; 25th Nov 2013 at 19:17.
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Old 26th Nov 2013, 12:55
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10 Sqn pilots had not been AAR qualified by that time.
God forbid Would make the white gloves sweaty.

Not sure of the distance but I think my longest range flight was Caracus to Brize on a Royal.Flt time 8hrs 20mins.
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Old 26th Nov 2013, 14:23
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FAI average speed equates to 445.114 kts, giving a flight time of 8:25.
I suspect that the FAI only gives credit for the GC distance regardless of the route actually flown.
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Old 26th Nov 2013, 17:21
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VC10 C1 was no slouch when 'clean'.
A quick look in the log book shows:
17Mar85 XR810 - ASI-BZZ 8.40
and
22Oct86 XR808 - NAIROBI-LOSSIE 10.15
I do remember on the latter we were empty and ended up at FL430!
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Old 26th Nov 2013, 17:22
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That sort of makes sense DaveReidUK! It would tie in with other aspects of the records.

The strange thing that remains puzzling is why the certificates state 'without aerial refuelling' while all the evidence points towards the use of just that during the flights to and from ASI. From another correspondence I've got this snippet:
"XV109 left Ascension to make the fastest transit to Mount Pleasant, and took on 20 Tonnes about 3 hours into the trip ".

That provides a registration for the VC10 that stopped at ASI, and also seems to confirm the refuelling in flight that was used on these flights, as was pointed out earlier from BEagle's logbook. Here's the certificate for that trip:


So there's an inconsistency here but BEagle also pointed out that going non-stop without inflight refuelling would have been problematic because of the island holding reserves that needed to be carried. It looks like there was a refuelling on both legs around two to three hours into the flight, from ZA149 flown by BEagle on the first outbound leg and from another 101 Sqn tanker three hours out from ASI (this may have been ZA147). Now why the FAI have overlooked this little fact is a mystery, but it doesn't take away from the achievements.

Summarising:
  • Halstead with XV109 from BZN to ASI, refuelled from ZA149 over the Atlantic, on 19 December 1987.
  • Halstead again with XV109 from ASI to MPN, refuelled three hours away from ASI, perhaps from ZA147? On 20 December 1987.
  • Halstead flew back from MPN to ASI on the 21st December 1987, with refuelling again? It's safe to assume that XV109 was used again.
  • On the same day this VC10 left ASI again with Knapp in command, arriving in the UK on 22 December. Again no further details for this flight apart from what's on the certificate.
Next to this we've also got:
  • Lumb with another VC10 flying from the UK to MPN using two inflight refuellings, one of which was a record in itself, 54 tonne from ZA147. Having left on 19 December, the VC10 stayed in the air for 15 hours 45 minutes arriving at MPN on 20 December.
  • This aircraft flew back the next day, non-stop again but I don't have the details of this flight.

Last edited by Jhieminga; 26th Nov 2013 at 17:39.
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Old 26th Nov 2013, 17:50
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Was that the same John Halstead who flew Britannias in the early 70s, and was a JP QFI at Linton-on-Ouse in the mid to late 70s?
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Old 26th Nov 2013, 19:05
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Sorry to chuck in a bit more confusion but I seem to recall that BZZ Staish, Chris Lumb took XV109 non-stop BZZ - MPN (Beg pardon, BEagle, should that be EGVN-EGYP?) on or about 19 Dec 87 and was refuelled by a VC10K launched out of ASI. Might the FAI Chit refer to OH ASI to OH Port Stanley without refuelling? I say Chris Lumb took the aircraft but, of course he was not necessarily the captain and it would have required an augmented crew to do the trip so who was driving when I couldn't say. I also remember that the record was nearly trumped a few days later when a Tristar K launched out of Brize at about 1630 on Christmas Eve to take some medical kit to treat a seriously ill soldier (I think) in FI. I heard that the turn round at ASI was completed in record time and that the total transit time to MPN, even with the stop, was not far short of the record set by the VC10 a few days earlier. Gave a whole new meaning to 216's motto "Dona Ferens" - life-saving medical kit so much more Christmassy than big black bomb! It was a good end to a week in which, I reckon, each of the Brize squadrons acquitted itself well.
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Old 26th Nov 2013, 19:17
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Any Nimrod drivers here who want to talk about a non-stop MPA-KSS? Of how about the round trip completed a year later?
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Old 26th Nov 2013, 19:28
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Originally Posted by Arfer Minnit
I seem to recall that BZZ Staish, Chris Lumb took XV109 non-stop BZZ - MPN
That would have been this trip then:


There are three more for the LON-ASI, MPN-ASI and ASI-LON legs but we haven't found the matching one for the non-stop return leg yet.

Don't worry about more confusion... we'll get it sorted somehow! I do know that this FAI record file lists XV109 as the airframe that landed at ASI on the way back. I assumed from that and from another conversation that it would have been that VC10 that flew the four legs via ASI. Either myself or the FAI might be wrong or they switched VC10s at MPN.... all possible of course.
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Old 26th Nov 2013, 21:31
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Disregarding false sectors (flying overhead etc) so as to achieve a 'record' could somebody tell me how the average VC10 times between BZZ and MPN compared with the 'chock-to-chock' times given in my post;

BZZ to ASI 8.20
ASI to MPN 7.30
MPN to ASI 7.30
ASI to BZZ 8.25

Having flown both the VC10 and the 747, I would put my money on the 747 being faster.
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Old 20th Dec 2013, 20:00
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Airclues, I've now found the times from the 1987 record attempts:
BZZ - ASI: 8.12 (with AAR)
ASI - MPN: 7.41 (with AAR)
MPN - ASI: 6.51
ASI - BZZ: 8:10

Looks like the 747 only has the VC10 beat on one sector! The times above may not be chock to chock though but it's the best I can do I'm afraid.

I've also got another confirmation that indeed the flights to MPA via ASI did use AAR, as already mentioned by BEagle. The return flights via ASI were unrefuelled though. Quite why the FAI recorded the first two sectors as being unrefuelled is a very good question that we probably won't find the answer to. I'll add more information later once I've got everything tidied up for the website.
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Old 21st Dec 2013, 10:26
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MPN - ASI: 6.51
That sounds like a flight time. I'm afraid that I didn't record the flight time. However, in those days we had to backtrack the runway at MPN and then turn at the end, with people with radios at the edge of the runway watching the wheels (the loop hadn't been built then). There would have been a full backtrack of the runway at ASI as well. As we obviously recorded different times, I don't think that we will ever know the answer.

EDIT; Of course the 747 is in a different FAI weight category, so the faster times wouldn't affect the record.

Last edited by Airclues; 22nd Dec 2013 at 20:47.
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