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Southend Airport Aviation Database

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Southend Airport Aviation Database

Old 23rd May 2016, 04:57
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Southend Airport Aviation Database

Greetings All,

I hope the board admins won't mind me posting this here, but for the last year and a half, I have been constructing a website called the 'Southend Airport Aviation Database' which is primarily aimed at covering the history of the aircraft, airlines and people who frequented or worked at SEN between 1947 and 2000.

This website is still under construction and will be for some considerable time, however I now feel that I have got enough down to make it worth launching. You'll also find a section covering the old Historical Aircraft Museum and most of its aircraft.

I hope this will be of interest to some of the board members and I look forward to hearing your comments, especially any suggestions for corrections or improvements.

All the best,

Nick (saadonline.co.uk)
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Old 23rd May 2016, 07:32
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Good luck Nick and I look forward to seeing the site.
Old 23rd May 2016, 13:47
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Didn't Freddie Laker start operations at Southend.
Never knew Sir Freddie but did know his first wife Joan.
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Old 23rd May 2016, 16:35
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Thought Laker originally started Aviation Traders at Stansted in the 1950s; wasn't the place awash with all the ex RAF Prentices he acquired intending to make a killing on the civvy market.
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Old 23rd May 2016, 19:41
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Fred got Aviation Traders going immediately after WW2, dealing in various overhauls, scrappings, buying and selling, etc. They didn't operate in their own right but supported others. Many of the Handley Page Halifaxes that were the mainstream type on the UK side of the Berlin Airlift in the late 1940s were sourced and maintained by ATEL, but operated by the likes of Bond Air Services. In 1951 he got into ops by acquiring Air Charter, a Southend-based operator (possibly in exchange for a debt to ATEL), which ultimately got rolled into British United, with Fred in charge of the whole operation.

Will be interested in the site described above, especially if it can show the detailed operations of the likes of Channel Airways in high summer.
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Old 27th May 2016, 23:40
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I did my Flying Scholarship at Southend Light Aviation Centre. Will be delighted to see this website
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Old 27th May 2016, 23:58
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[QUOTE][/I did my Flying Scholarship at SouthendQUOTE]

So did I (in 1954), when I remember it as the Southend Flying Club? Flew Tiger Moths in a very fine summer, happy days.
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Old 28th May 2016, 00:03
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Originally Posted by cockle View Post
the history of ... people who frequented ... SEN between 1947 and 2000.
My log book tells me I first landed there in January 2001, so I guess I don't get a mention
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Old 29th May 2016, 22:20
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A different take on Laker’s early aviation ventures comes in British Independent Airlines 1946-1976 by Tony Merton Jones,(2000).. This states that Air Charter Ltd was formed by Laker in 1947 as a general charter operator based at Croydon with Dragon Rapides,Geminis and a Dragon, plus later a Consul, and that by 1950 all but one of the fleet had been sold.

This version of events does not seem to be supported elsewhere. Fly me, I’m Freddie (Roger Eglin and Berry Ritchie, 1980 ) makes no mention of a Croydon operation. It says that Laker purchased Air Charter in 1951, as a “near moribund” airline with one aircraft but with useful tax losses. In the same year he also acquired Surrey Flying Services and Fairflight, the latter bringing in some usable airframes, in the shape of a Tudor and a Lincoln freighter. These were all merged during 1952 to operate under the Air Charter name though the aircraft remained registered to the original companies.

This latter source records that Laker originally started Aviation Traders at Bovingdon in 1947 as a spares dealer in Halifax components. The Bovingdon hangar had no aircraft access onto the airfield for aircraft and hence the move to Southend in 1948 to take advantage of the opportunities for aircraft maintenance in support of the Berlin airlift. These early days at Southend were evidently very lucrative for Laker and financed the purchase of the other companies and the expansion into Stansted. There was no further hangarage vacant at Southend whereas at Stansted there were two hangars available

Stansted was also better suited to the commercial operation of Yorks and Tudors than the grass field at Southend so it became the Air Charter UK operating base. I doubt (though I don’t know) whether there were any Air Charter operations at Southend in the early fifties other than maintenance movements. Regular ACL commercial movements at Southend began in 1955 with the start up of the car ferry operation followed in November 1956 by the Cyprus trooping contract flown by DC4s.
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Old 31st May 2016, 09:51
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That's a more accurate profile, however there may have been an additional owner of Air Charter before Freddie. His initial Southend operations were from the two black T2 style hangars later know as CW/AAS and AT(E)L. The third known as BKS was erected around 1951-52 I believe.
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Old 31st May 2016, 20:57
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I too have been compiling histories of the various aircraft and airlines that have passed through Southend in the mentioned period and there is an astonishingly high number of both. I will look forward to your website going on line in due course (I do not have the expertise to do so myself so my research is confined to paper only).

I find Propliner magazine to be an outstanding reference source

best regards
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Old 13th Jun 2016, 22:01
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Anyone interested in Southend Airport please checkout Robin Pinnocks Youtube channel it has some brilliant footage of aircraft at Southend.

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Old 17th Jun 2016, 17:33
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Super videos from Robin Pinnock.

I particularly liked the G-SIXC makeover video, what a lovely aircraft the DC6 was.

What the videos also show is how busy and diversified the aprons were in those days when compared to now. It's enough to make a grown man weep!
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Old 19th Jun 2016, 14:17
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Growing up around Stansted in the 70's and 80's I always looked forward to my trips down to Southend

Compared even to Stansted at that time, the prop era just seemed to hang on a little bit longer at Southend and there was always something exotic to see, hear and log.....certainly miss the sound of those RR Darts

Look forward to seeing the database up and running
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Old 22nd Jun 2016, 11:33
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I'm surprised no-one has yet mentioned BAF and/or the Keegans.

Perhaps the problem is that it's difficult to do so without resorting to the kind of language that Mike Keegan used all the time.

That aside, they are an integral part of the story, and played an important role at SEN for a long time.

But it was still by a wide margin the worst company, at management level at least, that I ever came across in my aviation career.

Notwithstanding that, I did learn some of the tricks of running an operation outside the law, including paying the FOI handsomely to look the other way from unsafe and illegal operating practices, for which I am duly grateful.
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