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BEA Airtours from Gatwick, 1971

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BEA Airtours from Gatwick, 1971

Old 3rd Sep 2021, 07:31
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BEA Airtours from Gatwick, 1971

I just discovered, thanks to someone putting flight data together for Gatwick, that my first flight ever was on a Comet 4B operated by BEA Airtours to Corfu, KT912, on May 10th 1971. Return was KT913 on May 24th.

I'm now looking for any clues whatsoever regarding the tail number or other interesting details about the operation in 1971 from Gatwick. Long shot, I know, but I thought it worth asking, just in case anyone who knows anyone with pilots logs - there were only 10 Comets I think at this time, and any information about where a frame may have been on those dates is useful for elimination. Also interested in finding ephemera from the period: in flight mags, photos, whatever. And which companies were BEA Airtours doing charters for at that time?

I know about the holdings in the Surrey Archive relating to the 1971 movements (and have viewed these - they don't cover the date needed). And in touch with someone who is collating information from other sources. So I've done all the stuff I think it's possible to do with Google and associated legwork.

I did find a lovely little promotional jigsaw on Ebay of one of the Comets. And dimly remember having this at the time. Also I drew a little picture of Corfu airport (old terminal) and the plane landing, complete with red wings for my school report (because we were shaving time out of term I had to write it all up), also noting that the in-flight meal was ham and chicken. Apart from that I remember being a little apprehensive of take off and landing, but concluding the in between bit was rather dull and unlikely to be eventful. I was 7 years old.
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Old 4th Sep 2021, 07:05
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A little older than you at 11 but I remember flying BEA Airtours to Alicante that summer. It was late June and my parents had come up from Santiago to see family and I had stayed in UK after school We went on holiday before returning to Chile and I too remember your Jigsaw. Interestingly due to flight time we travelled to London on overnight sleeper from Leeds, which was an experience in its self !! Flew back to Santiago on Iberia DC8 from Madrid, which had a very bright interior with deep Reds and Golds a step up from BEA Airtours , though on BEA we sat in seats around a table, two facing each other which was very different back then. I think there may have been 8 seats like that on board all the rest std.
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Old 4th Sep 2021, 07:48
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Yes, the Comets had that configuration at the front. I do remember it, and I think the Dan Air Comet at East Fortune is still laid out like that.
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Old 4th Sep 2021, 10:36
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Didn't the Comets have 3 + 2 seating too?
My first flight was also BEA Airtours, but in a B707-436, G-APFH, KT144 on July 25th 1973..Gatwick -Milan Malpensa
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Old 4th Sep 2021, 12:40
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Originally Posted by ATSA1 View Post
Didn't the Comets have 3 + 2 seating too?
Yes, although unlike the Caravelle/DC-9/1-11, the Comet had the triples on the port side.
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Old 4th Sep 2021, 19:19
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Bison Nav
Glad to see my little Grey Cells are still working though to be fair it was the mention of the Jigsaw which brought the memories back ! I am lucky to have flown many many times over the years and many are not memorable, but the combination of the sleeper and indeed jigsaw must have lodged in there. I did 2 flights a year to the UK and returns to Chile for 7 years and to be honest I can probably remember maybe 4 of note. One obviously being the first (many tears from Mum and a little from me !, but I was only 9) and one where we hit CAT where or near where the AF330 went down, and of course my last one.

Thanks for provoking the memories
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Old 7th Sep 2021, 05:19
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Most if not all of the Airtours 4B's went to Dan Air. Not all saw service, some airframes being used as a source of spares. The only surviving 4B is G-APYD at Wroughton but alas she was not part of the KT fleet.

Regarding memorabilia the OP may like to know that their is an aviation collectors fair at the K2 leisure centre in Crawley this Sunday (12Th of September) from 10.00 am. I am in no way connected to the event and I hope mention of it does not breech any posting rules.
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Old 7th Sep 2021, 09:38
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I can recall the Airtours flights using the callsign 'Beatours' operating wef mid 1970; I was stationed at the radar unit on the northside at Heathrow at the time operating as a 'radar monitor'.
I'm sure that in 1974, RAE acquired two of these ex BEA aircraft because I remember 3 Comets ariving at Farnborough in August, two of which were 4Bs and one of which was 4C XV814 but I don't remember the other registrations; the two 4Bs then went to Lasham where presumably they were broken up by Dan Air who operated 4Cs at the time which were maintained by Dan Air at Lasham.
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Old 7th Sep 2021, 11:11
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XV814 was a Comet 4, not a 4C. Ex- G-APDF.
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Old 7th Sep 2021, 12:54
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I don't care, it was a lovely aircraft to fly in and it was my sad duty to log its final flight.
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Old 16th Sep 2021, 22:52
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There's a great little film celebrating the start of the airline and associated package tours, including some lovely shots of the Comet, inside and out. And a rather wonderful captain. I'm not allowed to post URLs yet, but it can be found on Youtube by searching for BEA Airtours.
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