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Capt. Tom Stoney BOAC

Old 4th Nov 2022, 19:00
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Capt. Tom Stoney BOAC

I was watching a very interesting old BOAC video involving BOAC training at Shannon, on the VC10; I'm sure most of you would have seen this video - very well worth a watch if you haven't.

The training captain here is one Capt. Tom Stoney. He had a very illustrious career with BOAC and also served in the RAF Reserve during the war (58 Sqn, Bomber Command, which flew Whitleys and Halifaxes); he was the captain who flew Her Late Majesty back on an Argonaut, after George VI died. He also flew the first Comet 4 - also the first jet flight to the US. Obviously, he became a VC10 training captain at some stage; just wondered if anyone knew of any other types he flew etc? Something tells he may also have flown the first 707 flight as well?

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Old 4th Nov 2022, 20:06
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Originally Posted by akerosid View Post
I was watching a very interesting old BOAC video involving BOAC training at Shannon, on the VC10; I'm sure most of you would have seen this video - very well worth a watch if you haven't.
(82) 1970s BOAC AIRLINES PROMOTIONAL FILM "AIRLINE PILOT" 79844 - YouTube

The training captain here is one Capt. Tom Stoney. He had a very illustrious career with BOAC and also served in the RAF Reserve during the war (58 Sqn, Bomber Command, which flew Whitleys and Halifaxes); he was the captain who flew Her Late Majesty back on an Argonaut, after George VI died. He also flew the first Comet 4 - also the first jet flight to the US. Obviously, he became a VC10 training captain at some stage; just wondered if anyone knew of any other types he flew etc? Something tells he may also have flown the first 707 flight as well?
Something tells me the first BOAC 707 Captain was a guy named Millichamp?
From what I was told of the company back in those days, from someone that was there, it was a team of two halves. Them that liked American airplanes, and them that liked British aeroplanes.... "Go-around" vs "Overshoot" all that political nonsense.... then came the "shotgun marriage" with the dysfunctional family across the road......

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Old 4th Nov 2022, 21:12
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Captain Brent on Twitter has a clip of a BOAC B707 being delivered by this chap-https://twitter.com/birdseed501/status/1421039025624952833?s=61&t=4dG_JehW_d6BGfL311jJkg
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Old 4th Nov 2022, 21:18
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Originally Posted by Private jet View Post
Something tells me the first BOAC 707 Captain was a guy named Millichamp?
From what I was told of the company back in those days, from someone that was there, it was a team of two halves. Them that liked American airplanes, and them that liked British aeroplanes.... "Go-around" vs "Overshoot" all that political nonsense.... then came the "shotgun marriage" with the dysfunctional family across the road......
BOAC/BA used to have a grandly titled "Maintenance Manager American Aircraft" and a "Maintenance Manager British Aircraft".
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Old 5th Nov 2022, 02:04
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I wonder if one of them realised he was in a dead end job Dave.
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Old 5th Nov 2022, 10:43
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Dysfunctional family..call a spade a shovel PJ..

Originally Posted by Private jet View Post
Something tells me the first BOAC 707 Captain was a guy named Millichamp?
From what I was told of the company back in those days, from someone that was there, it was a team of two halves. Them that liked American airplanes, and them that liked British aeroplanes.... "Go-around" vs "Overshoot" all that political nonsense.... then came the "shotgun marriage" with the dysfunctional family across the road......
next thing you'll get someone bringing up the monitored approach mate! Whoops
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Old 5th Nov 2022, 11:10
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Originally Posted by akerosid View Post
He was the captain who flew Her Late Majesty back on an Argonaut, after George VI died.
I believe two captains did that, as there was a crew change at Benghazi; the original crew selected for the royal party tour took it from Entebbe to Benghazi, a BOAC refuelling and crew slip point, and then whoever happened to be there at the time onward to London.
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Old 5th Nov 2022, 13:55
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Tom Stoney was an excellent pilot and instructor, I flew with him several times. In that BOAC film, where you see him at Shannon greeting the new trainees and during their base training on the VC10, he does appear a little 'wooden'. I think that was probably because he may have been unused to being filmed. In reality, you couldn't have asked for a more kindly, helpful and insightful instructer. I admired and liked him greatly.
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Old 5th Nov 2022, 17:00
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Impossible to surpass Bergerie1's welcomed first-hand experience there, but digging around the bookshelf on a wet Saturday afternoon does suggest that Capt Tom Stoney was one of BOAC's leading lights and a pretty frequently-occurring name in the generation after OP Jones but alongside the likes of "Flaps" Rendall.

Speedbird - The Complete History of BOAC by Robin Higham (finally published in 2013 after being commissioned 53 years earlier) is more of the politics and board level goings-on and doesn't really mention individual pilots - even OP Jones merits only one mention!

Sir Basil Smallpeice's autobiography - Of Comets and Queens (Airlife Publishing 1981) is probably the most enlightening (and helped by a decent index). Sir Basil makes generous mention of those around him, with Tom Stoney appearing four times:

July 1956 as part of a team sent to Boeing to evaluate the 707 -

"We felt that insufficient work had yet been done on the Douglas DC-8. On the other hand the Boeing 707 was well advanced, and we believed the claims made for it. But to be as certain as possible, we sent a twelve-man team to the West Coast during July. It was led by Alan Campbell Orde and included two of our senior line pilots, Capt Tom Stoney and Capt Tommy Farnsworth. On returning at the end of the month they reported unanimously that the Boeing 707 was the best aircraft for our purposes - particularly when powered by Rolls-Royce Conway engines. These would help its performance and reduce the amount of dollars needed."

October 1958 as the Captain of the inaugural Comet 4 service from New York to London after several delays in obtaining Port Authority approval to fly the jet from Idlewild which finally came through on the day before, announced by Smallpeice standing on a chair in the Speedbird Club in New York where an aircraft and crew were on standby:

"So, on Saturday, 4 October, 1958, BOAC made aviation history by operating the first transatlantic jet service ever - and, to cap it, both ways on the same day. Capt Tom Stoney, our Comet flight manager, in command eastbound, took the aircraft up to 1,850 ft while still inside the perimeter fence of the airport, at which point he throttled back to reduce the noise level within limits acceptable to the authorities.

Out over the Atlantic, we passed the other aircraft, out of sight, with Pops d'Erlanger on board and Capt Roy Millichap in command. Our eastbound flight to London took only 6 hours 12 minutes, thanks to a tailwind of 92 mph and the priority given us by Air Traffic Control over the UK. The aircraft glided in to a beautiful touch-down. A warm welcome was given us on the tarmac, and it gave me a particular glow of pleasure to find Miles Thomas amongst those who had come to greet us."

April 1960:

"BOAC's first Boeing 707 arrived at London Airport on 29 April 1960 under the command of Capt Tom Stoney, by now manager of the 707 Flight. The incorporation of special "hand-made" mods had delayed delivery by only four months. We began to put them into transatlantic service on 27 May."

And finally, Smallpeice's book has an appendix listing all BOAC Royal Flights between 1951 and the end of 1963, when he left BOAC. [He did later become Chairman of Cunard overseeing its order for the QEII and in 1964, was appointed as an advisor to Buckingham Palace, so the Royal connection continued.] Capt T B Stoney is listed once, flying a Comet 4 on 28 October 1958 from London to Ottawa with the Duke of Edinburgh and then 1 November 1958 from Ottawa to Leuchars.

Noting the comments above, the Smallpeice list shows Captain R C Parker and Captain R G Ballantine taking the Argonaut from London to Nairobi on 31 January 1952 with Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, and the same two Captains returning on 6-7 February from Entebbe to London with Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. It doesn't show other members of the crew so entirely possible that Tom Stoney was among them, but if so, he was not the Aircraft Commander on that occasion.

In case of interest, other BOAC Captains listed on the Royal Flights:
O P Jones, R C Parker, R G Ballantine, A M A Majendie, E Rotteram, W N C Griffiths, A P W Cane, R R Rodley, A C Loraine, F A Taylor, P C Fair, R C Parker (again) and R G Ballantine (again), C B Houlder, R E Hallam, L V Messenger, F Walton, A S M Rendall, J J Veasey, R I B Winn, G Store, J R Johnson, J Woodman, B C Frost, W J Craig, F E Flower, D Smith, D Anderson, J T Percy, A Meagher, A P W Cane (again), G G Stead, J L Gregory, N A Mervin-Smith, D A Cracknell, R E Hallam (again), B G Wallace, R E Millichap, E J N Hengle, J T A Marsden, B E P Bone, J A Kelly and R H Tapley.

Third BOAC source book - BOAC - An Illustrated History by Charles Woodley (2004, Tempus Publishing):

First mention of Captain Stoney in this publication is in connection with the Comet inaugural, giving a near-identical account to that in Sir Basil's book and so not reprised.

Second mention gives more detail of the 707 entry to service at BOAC and the part Capt Stoney played in it:

"BOAC's first Boeing 707, G-APFD, arrived at London on its delivery flight from Seattle on 29 April 1960. Under the command of Captain T.B. Stoney, BOAC's Manager, 707 Flight, the aircraft made the 4,900-mile journey non-stop in 9hrs 44 mins. Crew training was carried out at RAF St Mawgan, Newquay, and on from 3 May 1960 a series of proving flights was operated between New York and London via Prestwick. The first such flight was operated by G-APFD under the call-sign Jet Speedbird 001. Proving flights were also operated from London to Toronto via Prestwick, the first such flight, by G-APFD as Jet Speedbird 010 on 17 May 1960 inaugurating the new extension to runway 13/31 at Prestwick. On 27 May 1960, Captain Stoney commanded G-APFD on the inaugural BOAC Boeing 707 scheduled service, from London to New York. The next day, Captain Nisbet was in charge of the same aircraft on the inaugural eastbound service."

The last BOAC Comet 4 flight on 24 November 1965 (Damascus-London) was commanded by Captain R C Alabaster as the Manager, Comet Flight, who had also flown the latter legs of the 1952 Comet 1 inaugural from London to Johannesburg, taking over the aircraft at Khartoum to fly to Entebbe, Livingstone and Johannesburg. Clearly some pilots stayed on the Comet throughout, where Captain Stoney had moved from Comet to 707 as Fleet Manager on both types in succession.

And many of those listed above have relatives flying today - I can think of at least two!

Hope this helps and may be of interest.
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Old 5th Nov 2022, 17:28
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Excellent post, Flightrider!
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Old 5th Nov 2022, 18:42
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Thanks Discorde - quite interesting to trawl through.

A question for Bergerie1 on BOAC VC10 people if I may - slightly off topic but in the same area. Captain A S M Rendall was the VC10 Flight Manager and seems to have been known almost universally as "Flaps Rendall". [With a given name of Athelstan, I guess a nickname was inevitable!] Given the flightdeck "etiquette" of the day, would he have been called "Flaps" on the flightdeck?
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Old 5th Nov 2022, 18:49
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No He would have been addressed as "Sir"
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Old 5th Nov 2022, 19:33
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And what was the origin of the nickname 'Flaps'? There was a Training Capt on the Vanguard who was referred to as 'Jumping Jack', supposedly because he was not the most relaxed of operators. The story goes that a new F/O was being line trained and asked one of his buddies how the aircraft automatically eliminated drift before touchdown in a crosswind as he didn't recall this feature being taught in ground school. None of his mates could remember either. Then a more experienced chap chipped in:

'Who's your trainer?'
'Jack xxxxxxx.'
'Ah, that explains it - he's your auto-drift-remover.'

Is it worth starting a PPRuNe thread for these old aviation anecdotes?
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Old 5th Nov 2022, 19:37
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Originally Posted by Discorde View Post

Is it worth starting a PPRuNe thread for these old aviation anecdotes?
I certainly think so!
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Old 6th Nov 2022, 13:14
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Originally Posted by akerosid View Post
I was watching a very interesting old BOAC video involving BOAC training at Shannon, on the VC10; I'm sure most of you would have seen this video - very well worth a watch if you haven't.
(82) 1970s BOAC AIRLINES PROMOTIONAL FILM "AIRLINE PILOT" 79844 - YouTube

The training captain here is one Capt. Tom Stoney. He had a very illustrious career with BOAC and also served in the RAF Reserve during the war (58 Sqn, Bomber Command, which flew Whitleys and Halifaxes); he was the captain who flew Her Late Majesty back on an Argonaut, after George VI died. He also flew the first Comet 4 - also the first jet flight to the US. Obviously, he became a VC10 training captain at some stage; just wondered if anyone knew of any other types he flew etc? Something tells he may also have flown the first 707 flight as well?
Just to add that Captain Stoney is reported to have been born in Co. Donegal and, from on-line sources, the Butler Stoney family appears to have been quite prominent in political and other contexts in that county, before Irish independence.
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Old 6th Nov 2022, 16:00
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Originally Posted by Discorde View Post
And what was the origin of the nickname 'Flaps'?
It's in his obituary: he started on DH86s between Khartoum and West Africa as a very junior copilot and he claimed his only piloting activity was to work the wing flaps with a hand pump.
The copy below is on A4O-AB, and unfortunately is a bit cropped at the edges.



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Old 6th Nov 2022, 23:02
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Wow, what a period of aviation to have been engaged in, HP 42 to VC10.
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Old 6th Nov 2022, 23:13
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
Wow, what a period of aviation to have been engaged in, HP 42 to VC10.
With some significant Derring-Do in WW2 along the way !
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Old 7th Nov 2022, 07:12
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I never flew with 'Flaps' but he was my flight manager when I joined the VC10 fleet in 1964. He was another good man, well liked by the crews and very fair.

Last edited by Bergerie1; 7th Nov 2022 at 10:54.
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Old 7th Nov 2022, 07:29
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Originally Posted by WHBM View Post
I believe two captains did that, as there was a crew change at Benghazi; the original crew selected for the royal party tour took it from Entebbe to Benghazi, a BOAC refuelling and crew slip point, and then whoever happened to be there at the time onward to London.
The crew change waa at El Adem. Ballantyne handed over to Parker.
East Africa was the domain of the appalling Hermes at the time. The Princess/Queen only wanted 1 stop en route. An Argonaut could carry the 2000kg required payload from El Adem to Nairobi, the Hermes could not that is why an Argonaut was used.
There were therefore obviously no Argonaut pilots slipping in Libya. Also there is no way BOAC would have used randomly slipping pilots. Crews for Royal flights were hand picked
Since found out that Ballantyne anf Millichap flew the El Adem to Nairobi trip and return. Both senior captains

Last edited by bean; 8th Nov 2022 at 02:42.
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