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VC-10 Crew members

Old 20th Jul 2021, 19:12
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VC-10 Crew members




Could somebody explain to me the fourth crew members responsibility on the (BUA I believe from the footage) VC-10? Taken in 1969.

I can only think of Navigator/Radio Operator, and can I assume this didn't occur on the BOAC fleets?

Was watching footage and suddenly the camera displayed this chap which caught me unawares.

Reference (at 06m40s):

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Old 20th Jul 2021, 19:35
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Until mid 1971 when the last direct entry into BOAC from Hamble occurred, graduates did a years NAV ticket and flew as navigators with the odd chance to touch the stick. All changed with the retro fitting of INS throughout the fleets. There was a periscope in the flight deck roof.
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Old 20th Jul 2021, 19:46
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Thank you Blind Pew, and let me take this opportunity to say I thoroughly enjoy your posts on the machinations within BEA early 70's which has enlightened my understanding considerably of that period.

The chap featured seems of the older generation so I am assuming some dedicated Navigators (or 'retired' pilots) were around at the time. Still, it was a surprise to me I can tell you.
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Old 20th Jul 2021, 19:52
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Yes, RAF VC10 had 2 Pilots, an Air Engineer and a Navigator up front, with a supernumary seat to carry an extra person if required. I spent many a happy year running the VC10.
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Old 20th Jul 2021, 20:12
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flash8,

Back in the 1960s, the BOAC flight deck complement consisted of a captain, two co-pilots and a flight engineer. I spent many hours at the VC10 nav table across the Atlantic, the Sahara, Pacfic and Indian Ocean. Before the advent of INS, all BOAC co-pilots had to have flight navigators' licences, and they generally alternated leg and leg about between the nav table and the right hand seat. We all had to become proficient in astro navigation, the use of LORAN, DR, air plotting and fuel flight planning. It proved to be an excellent apprenticeship for command on long range operations. I never regret one moment of that time.
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Old 20th Jul 2021, 21:03
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I remember IAS Cargo managed to talk the CAA into allowing the removal of Flight navigators on flights across North Africa to Lagos in the mid seventies. We just had two pilots and a flight engineer and it was a case of picking up the odd NDB beacon when they came in range!
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 05:43
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More VC-10 stories please.

As a youngster I was privileged enough to fly London - Nairobi- Jburg in a BOAC VC-10.
Still remember the Captain making a detour out of Nairobi to get a better view of Kilimanjaro.
Magnificent aircraft.
One of the reasons I got into aviation.
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 14:20
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Nav, unorthodox solutions and rocket clouds


The rocket clouds are atypical as they are bent due to strengthening westerly winds with the lower winds blocked by the alps. Base 4,000ft plus tops more than double. Over the indian ocean they were up to 20 grand..
I was on the first ex hamster group onto the VC10 without nav ticket although we did the full theory including plots under Nick Hoy at hamble who had done Bader, crashed and his injury stopped his RAF pilot career.
To operate on the NATS track system one needed approval which included navigator prior to inertial.
I was fortunate as I had the aircraft in part 1, things had changed after classic had done touch and go in plantation during night non precision approach into KL and it was decided that copilots had to be fully qualified to be able to effectively criticise errant senior captains.
BOAC command standards were higher than BEA although to be fair the operation around the world was more demanding than a European home every night gig.
An example was when a super needed a severe turbulence check in Colombo when a foolish captain penetrated rocket cloud. My photo shows two, the larger on the left had dissipated by the time I had stopped my car last week.
The only occasion rocket clouds were discussed was on a BGA cross country course warning if you see one forming by the time you reach it it will have gone.
The aircraft needed a tailplane severe turbulence check as well as repairing the cabin damage but the nearest cherry picker was in India. Bergerie solved the problem and the aircraft was reversed up to the terminal roof where one of the flight engineers was able to inspect it.
Iirc I have a BOAC first officers landing card which needed signing off by training captains to allow the new boy first officers to land. (Mine signed off before I became a line pilot).Whether it was the same on the iron duck as the 707 and to some extent on the Trident I would expect so. There were captains who would hog the sectors and often only give the senior copilot a go. An ex senior manager and safety auditor told me a couple of stories of his time on the 707, one was racist bullying with the character eventually being forced into retirement and the other was on a 18 sector trip where he never touched the controls. Last landing at London the captain turned to the senior northern copilot and said "even if I say so myself that was a beautiful landing" response " I should hope so, you've f##king done 16 of them".
Another prune poster tells a story with compass failure and the captain setting up a solar compass using a couple of lumps of cheddar and two toothpicks which gave them a stable heading to maintain until they got to land. Clever calculation using lat long and earth rotation rate.
I had a less demanding nav failure on the first north pole transit on a SR DC10ER when we had two different tracks displayed which was a software fault. Fortunately we had a large moon and I guesstimated the track then used the lat long displays and the rate of change to intercept the correct line of longitude. 40 mins later everything was back to normal. Something that us old f#rts picked up from the first generation jet pilots.
ps we could do a duck and dive safely as well.
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Old 26th Jul 2021, 13:49
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From the Navigation Manual for the VC10, the responsibilities of the Navigator were:


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Old 26th Jul 2021, 14:01
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That was the easy part, the 'house-keeping' as it were. Para 2.1 skates very lightly over the actual navigation. Anyone who has held and used a Flight Navigator's Licence in those days will know that, at times, navigation was anything but easy. It was as much an art as a science, especially astro navigation.
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Old 26th Jul 2021, 15:37
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The important question is: how long did it take to perform an astro fix over the North Atlantic? I remember reading that it could take some 15-20 minutes, which basically meant that once you got one fix done, you could start on the next one straight away.

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Old 26th Jul 2021, 16:36
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It was possible to do a three star astro fix every 20mins, but you needed to be well prepared and the work never seemed to stop, especially if you were airplotting as well!!
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Old 26th Jul 2021, 22:23
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Meanwhile, elsewhere .....


The RAF version had Navs too .....
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Old 27th Jul 2021, 20:14
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Good point ICM! On a related note, I have noticed that the navigation stations were slightly different between the various sub-variants of the VC10 family, with the RAF's VC10s having the most elaborate navigator's station. In comparison, the BOAC and BUA navigators had less equipment to work with, or so it seems.
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Old 27th Jul 2021, 22:03
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They were there to counterbalance the loadmaster down the back.
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