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BIA Blackpool Engineering Base.

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BIA Blackpool Engineering Base.

Old 18th May 2020, 17:25
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BIA Blackpool Engineering Base.

Hi,
Any memories of BIAs engineering base at Blackpool. Particularly interested in HP Heralds and howl long the base ran for.
Thank you.
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Old 18th May 2020, 17:54
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Others will soon be along to reply.

Slight thread drift, but when scouting for locations for the 1982 TV series 'Airline' with Roy Marsden and his Daks, they needed an airfield with a late '40`s feel to it... so they modernised Blackpool.
​​​​​​
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Old 18th May 2020, 18:10
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Originally Posted by G-ARZG View Post
Others will soon be along to reply.

Slight thread drift, but when scouting for locations for the 1982 TV series 'Airline' with Roy Marsden and his Daks, they needed an airfield with a late '40`s feel to it... so they modernised Blackpool.
​​​​​​
Wiki says the series were shot at Duxford and Rufforth?


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Old 18th May 2020, 19:14
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Originally Posted by Self loading bear View Post
Wiki says the series were shot at Duxford and Rufforth?
Maybe so, but some scenes from BLK also.
I recall seeing a Twin Pin in background at least once
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Old 18th May 2020, 19:41
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The maintenance facility at Blackpool closed down towards the end of 1980, Some of the high hours Heralds were withdrawn from service and the remainder were incorporated into the Air UK fleet, engineering was relocated to the former Air Anglia maintenance Base at Norwich. Most of the engineering staff were made redundant at Blackpool, about twenty five engineering staff relocated down to Norwich.
Some of the scenes in Airline were shot in the hangar at Blackpool, following the demise of BIA.

Some of the staff that were made redundant had worked there for many years, in one case an engine fitter had started there with Lancashire Aircraft Corporation as an air engineer on HP Haltons in about 1948 or so, at that time maintenance was carried out on Percival Proctors, Avro Yorks, DH86B, C-47, Airspeed Consuls, Bristol 170 and DH 89A.

The last Herald that had a major service was G-AVPN, this was completed just before closure of the base, the aircraft operated with Air UK, went on to carry out passenger work with Euroair and was converted by JEA to operate as a freighter with Channel Express, eventually in 1997 making its last flight to Elvington to be displayed in the museum.

A further snippet of information on the theme of tv series, some of the scenes of the series "Family at War" were shot in what was the old BIA NDT section due to the 1940 air of authenticity.
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Old 19th May 2020, 12:52
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Originally Posted by Arthur Bellcrank View Post
The maintenance facility at Blackpool closed down towards the end of 1980, Some of the high hours Heralds were withdrawn from service and the remainder were incorporated into the Air UK fleet, engineering was relocated to the former Air Anglia maintenance Base at Norwich. Most of the engineering staff were made redundant at Blackpool, about twenty five engineering staff relocated down to Norwich.
Some of the scenes in Airline were shot in the hangar at Blackpool, following the demise of BIA.

Some of the staff that were made redundant had worked there for many years, in one case an engine fitter had started there with Lancashire Aircraft Corporation as an air engineer on HP Haltons in about 1948 or so, at that time maintenance was carried out on Percival Proctors, Avro Yorks, DH86B, C-47, Airspeed Consuls, Bristol 170 and DH 89A.

The last Herald that had a major service was G-AVPN, this was completed just before closure of the base, the aircraft operated with Air UK, went on to carry out passenger work with Euroair and was converted by JEA to operate as a freighter with Channel Express, eventually in 1997 making its last flight to Elvington to be displayed in the museum.

A further snippet of information on the theme of tv series, some of the scenes of the series "Family at War" were shot in what was the old BIA NDT section due to the 1940 air of authenticity.
Thanks, Arthur. How big was the engineering facility?
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Old 19th May 2020, 13:08
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The main hangar could house two Heralds with space for a third to be nosed in for say an engine change. There was a separate support workshop in the next hangar (Westair Cessna maintenance) used as an airframe component bay, spray booth, machine shop and technical library.
The main hangar also contained a stores, crewroom, Inspectors office and electrical bay, it was all rather run down with a leaking roof and inadequate heating.
A hardstanding outside the hangar could be used for minor defect rectification, engine runs and so, there was also a compass base and a designated area for high power ground runs.
I didn't work there for very long, June 1979 until the end in late 1980 when I moved down to Norwich to work for Air UK, it was a cheerful place to work with many characters, many of whom had been there for quite some time.
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Old 19th May 2020, 14:06
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Thanks, Arthur. Which did you prefer to work at Blackpool or Norwich?
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Old 19th May 2020, 14:16
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Originally Posted by Arthur Bellcrank View Post
The main hangar could house two Heralds with space for a third to be nosed in for say an engine change. There was a separate support workshop in the next hangar (Westair Cessna maintenance) used as an airframe component bay, spray booth, machine shop and technical library.
The main hangar also contained a stores, crewroom, Inspectors office and electrical bay, it was all rather run down with a leaking roof and inadequate heating.
A hardstanding outside the hangar could be used for minor defect rectification, engine runs and so, there was also a compass base and a designated area for high power ground runs.
I didn't work there for very long, June 1979 until the end in late 1980 when I moved down to Norwich to work for Air UK, it was a cheerful place to work with many characters, many of whom had been there for quite some time.
Was there much work for Avionics engineers and NDT?
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Old 19th May 2020, 14:22
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Hard question that, Norwich was a far better facility, more modern and spacious with better support shops, also the interest of F27 and F28 maintenance, however a large part of the maintenance at Norwich was for third party customers, Busy Bee, Aviaco and others, therefore the costings and down times put pressures on the work.

I enjoyed Blackpool, also Norwich which had the additional benefits of really good pubs, I would say 50/50.
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Old 19th May 2020, 14:44
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What sort of facilities did Norwich have workshop wise i.e. did it have an Avionics workshop clean room?
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Old 19th May 2020, 20:59
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Originally Posted by Arthur Bellcrank View Post
The maintenance facility at Blackpool closed down towards the end of 1980, Some of the high hours Heralds were withdrawn from service and the remainder were incorporated into the Air UK fleet, engineering was relocated to the former Air Anglia maintenance Base at Norwich. Most of the engineering staff were made redundant at Blackpool, about twenty five engineering staff relocated down to Norwich.
Some of the scenes in Airline were shot in the hangar at Blackpool, following the demise of BIA.

Some of the staff that were made redundant had worked there for many years, in one case an engine fitter had started there with Lancashire Aircraft Corporation as an air engineer on HP Haltons in about 1948 or so, at that time maintenance was carried out on Percival Proctors, Avro Yorks, DH86B, C-47, Airspeed Consuls, Bristol 170 and DH 89A.

The last Herald that had a major service was G-AVPN, this was completed just before closure of the base, the aircraft operated with Air UK, went on to carry out passenger work with Euroair and was converted by JEA to operate as a freighter with Channel Express, eventually in 1997 making its last flight to Elvington to be displayed in the museum.

A further snippet of information on the theme of tv series, some of the scenes of the series "Family at War" were shot in what was the old BIA NDT section due to the 1940 air of authenticity.
Did Blackpool service BIAs BAC 1-11s too?
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Old 20th May 2020, 06:55
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Blackpool base did not service the BAC 1-11, only the Heralds.
There was an avionics bay and clean room, however generally all avionic components were sent away to be overhauled or repaired by the manufacturer or service centres.
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Old 20th May 2020, 09:21
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Originally Posted by Arthur Bellcrank View Post
Blackpool base did not service the BAC 1-11, only the Heralds.
There was an avionics bay and clean room, however generally all avionic components were sent away to be overhauled or repaired by the manufacturer or service centres.
Thanks, Arthur. I presume Air UK overhauled their own Avionics components at Norwich.
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Old 20th May 2020, 10:17
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I could be wrong but I seem to remember MAEL looked after the BIA 1-11s at Luton.
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Old 21st May 2020, 11:21
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Originally Posted by hatton View Post
Was there much work for Avionics engineers and NDT?
I'm not sure about the avionics side of things but there was a huge amount of NDT on the Heralds, like many British Aircraft of the era most of it was radiography (x-ray) inspections.
These included the forward pressure bulkhead, most of the wings, the engine support tubes and several more I can't quite remember, it was pretty hard work !
We inspected the last flying Herald in JEA Exeter (G-BEYF ?) not long before it was scrapped.
I did this one with an ex-BIA NDT guy Tony Downie, anyone remember him ?
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Old 21st May 2020, 11:25
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Originally Posted by Mooncrest View Post
I could be wrong but I seem to remember MAEL looked after the BIA 1-11s at Luton.
I'm not sure about Luton but Dan Air looked after the 1-11 line maintenance at LGW and the heavy maintenance at Lasham.
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Old 21st May 2020, 14:18
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Yes I remember Tony Downie at Blackpool and met him again at Exeter.
I flew in YF about a week before it was withdrawn from service, it was one of the ex Malaysian 400 series that was brought back by BAF in the late seventies, very heavy aircraft, we carried out a weight reduction programme at JEA when it was converted to a freighter, we found a 2 inch loom running along the leading edge, couldn't work out what it was, it transpired that it ran to loudspeakers that were once fitted on the wingtips. The RMAF used to fly over the forests broadcasting propaganda.
Useless information snippet for today.
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Old 21st May 2020, 14:52
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Originally Posted by G-ARZG View Post
Maybe so, but some scenes from BLK also. I recall seeing a Twin Pin in background at least once
Certainly was - see link below.


Jane's/Emerald also used the hangar for maintenace as well before they went bust in the early 2000's, anybody in between?
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Old 22nd May 2020, 10:00
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Originally Posted by Arthur Bellcrank View Post
Yes I remember Tony Downie at Blackpool and met him again at Exeter.
I flew in YF about a week before it was withdrawn from service, it was one of the ex Malaysian 400 series that was brought back by BAF in the late seventies, very heavy aircraft, we carried out a weight reduction programme at JEA when it was converted to a freighter, we found a 2 inch loom running along the leading edge, couldn't work out what it was, it transpired that it ran to loudspeakers that were once fitted on the wingtips. The RMAF used to fly over the forests broadcasting propaganda.
Useless information snippet for today.
More useless Info. We had a Percival Pembroke on 152 Sqn in Bahrain many years ago with the same sort of system as the Herald. It was sent down to the Jebel Akhdar to warn the locals of a planned bombing raid by a Shackleton. IE - We are going to flatten yor village so get out! The pilot of the Pembroke flew over the village and took several hits from ground fire, which knocked out an engine and smashed up the tape recorder in the cabin. He.made a forced landing at Firq and told the "experts" that from his war time experience the gunfire sounded like a .5" machine gun. They laughed at him until they found a .5" bullet in the mangled tape recorder. On a more practical not I used to bring a BIA Herald up from Gatwick in early 1979 to do a few days of Belfast, IOM and Glasgow runs. We used to stay in Lytham St Anns and drink gallons of beer as there was little to do when off duty.
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