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When Did Brymon Leave London City?

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When Did Brymon Leave London City?

Old 30th Jan 2023, 07:32
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Landing

My first flight in a Brymon DH 7 was Plymouth to Heathrow,nice aircraft I thought.So on approach we came lower and started flying down the runway getting lower and lower but no wheels down!Then (it seemed)at the last moment down came the undercarriage and touched down ,into reverse pitch and we turned off the runway!That was a short landing!Wish the pilot had told us before he did it!
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Old 1st Feb 2023, 18:41
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A small footnote, which adds another destination. In about 1987/8, a ski tour operator started up at Exeter (jointly owned by the then Airport Director and a waste tycoon in Exeter) called InStyle Holidays.

It's only product was ski holidays within easy reach of Chambery. Chambery then had a very short runway, unable to take jets or even turboprops other than the Dash 7. So the USP was that you could go from Exeter to Chambery, and be on the slopes on the same day, using Brymon's Dash 7 chartered by InStyle Holidays, instead of having to go to Bristol or Gatwick (say) to get aboard an aircraft to Lyon, followed by a 6-8 hour coach ride.

The drawback was 150 minutes in the Dash 7, each way. So departure time was set as 9.00am, and passengers were invited to arrive in time for unlimited Bucks Fizz and scrambled eggs in the airport bar. Guests took up the offer very enthusiastically, and by the time they boarded they were anaesthetised against the discomfort of the Dash 7 and slept the trip away. The operation achieved cult status among the well-heeled Hoorays, and flights were full although very expensive. Unfortunately, the waste tycoon managed to wrest total control from his partner, and then, unwisely, offered the same product from LCY for a season, which was a financial disaster. But it was fun while it lasted, and Chambery can be added to the list.

PS: As I recall, BA City Flyer acquired at least a controlling shareholding in Brymon in the 80's, and Charles Stuart was seconded by BA to manage the company. He contributed greatly to the technical and operational work of opening passenger services to LCY, culminating in the CAA's approvals. He also did a lot of work on the proposal for a STOL parallel runway at LHR to the north of 09L/27R as the third runway; the hidebound nonsense from NATS against this always irritated him.

PPS: You could add Shoreham to the list; the daily Brymon Twotter early morning service from Exeter to Gatwick always came as a complete surprise to Approach at LGW, and the service was frequently told to hold on route. This hold often extended into 20 or 30 minutes, and the flight would ultimately divert, sometimes to LHR, but more often to Shoreham. Apart from fuel considerations, the lack of a toilet forced the issue, and not a few passengers of a certain age suffered greatly.

Last edited by old,not bold; 2nd Feb 2023 at 11:39.
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Old 1st Feb 2023, 21:13
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Originally Posted by old,not bold

PPS: You could add Shoreham to the list; the daily Brymon Twotter early morning service from Exeter to Gatwick always came as a complete surprise to Approach at LGW, and the service was frequently told to hold on route. This hold often extended into 20 or 30 minutes, and the flight would ultimately divert, sometimes to LHR, but more often to Shoreham. Apart from fuel considerations, the lack of a toilet forced the issue, and not a few passengers of a certain age suffered greatly.
The surprise for Gatwick was that it often arrived unnanounced from outside controlled airspace asking to join at MID but would go literally anywhere if there was a delay at Gatwick; it often used Biggin, they tried Farnborough (at the pilot's request) once but arranging ground transportation for the final bit was difficult to arrange at short notice and on one occasion, an engine failure south of Basingstoke led to it unexpectedly lobbing into RAF Odiham.
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Old 2nd Feb 2023, 07:49
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After reading your post and the information regarding charter flights from Exeter to Chambery.

Did they operate on a frequent schedule or were they just ad-hoc charters?

Regarding Brymon Airways at Shoreham.

I can't see Shoreham being added to the list as it wasn't a regular charter or scheduled destination. Shoreham was really just a diversionary airport due to the reasons you have stated. I'm sure that an aircraft belonging to Brymon Airways had landed at several airports that are not listed just like Shoreham or even the likes of Bournemouth. But neither can be listed as former destinations, as both were just diversions or an ad-hoc charter.

Last edited by Sotonsean; 2nd Feb 2023 at 08:04.
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Old 2nd Feb 2023, 13:17
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Chevvron, the daily service was on a repetitive flight plan, so would not have appeared completely "unannounced", unless I've misunderstood the nature (and correct name) for a flight plan that is lodged covering all flights under that plan for a period.

Sotonsean, the Chambery flights were, IIRC, a series of once weekly charters during the ski season, ie about 10 weeks. I'm overwhelmed by the strength of your argument about Shoreham, and agree that it should not be on the list. (I had to endure the bus ride to LGW on several occasions, and I reckon I hold the time record for getting off the aircraft at Shoreham, across the apron and into the gents'. Life was simpler in those days; no jobsworths in hi-vis to get in the way.)

Last edited by old,not bold; 2nd Feb 2023 at 15:54.
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Old 2nd Feb 2023, 13:54
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Meanwhile... did the whole operation out of London City face a suspension of services due to variable availability of service from Thames Radar?

Did the press latch on to the phrase "uncontrolled airspace" and suggest that using the airport was risky? It was a while ago, so I may not be quite right in my recollection (I'm sure an ATC chappie will be along to pummel me very soon.... :-) )
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Old 2nd Feb 2023, 16:01
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Originally Posted by old,not bold
Chevvron, the daily service was on a repetitive flight plan, so would not have appeared completely "unannounced", unless I've misunderstood the nature (and correct name) for a flight plan that is lodged covering all flights under that plan for a period.
The repetitive flight plan would not have been activated unless a 'departure' message was sent (in those days - it's automatic nowadays) and the pilot might have in fact cancelled the IFR flight plan on that day to operate VFR only. There would thus be no estimate on the ETA passed to Gatwick until it was handed over to them either by Farnborough or Southampton.
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Old 2nd Feb 2023, 18:51
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Chevvron, thanks for that......... several Brymon pilots come to mind who might well have opted for VFR, as a declaration of independence.....
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Old 2nd Feb 2023, 19:31
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Originally Posted by old,not bold
Chevvron, thanks for that......... several Brymon pilots come to mind who might well have opted for VFR, as a declaration of independence.....
I'm reminded of an exchange between ATC and a Brymon Dash 7 at Heathrow sometime in the early 1990s.

There were some nasty thunderstorms passing through (slowly!) for several hours, plus LATCC's computer had had some kind of huge problem. Long slot delays, thrombotic flow control, SIDs and STARs improvised to dodge weather in the manner of Picasso or Salvador Dali, flight plans submitted, then lost by the computer. Not a lot was going anywhere...

"Chaos" is not really an adequate word to describe the situation. It (must have) made for great listening for a stranded business traveller with a discreet radio (I imagine...)

Brymon comes up with a cunning plan, and asks if he can file VFR to Plymouth with an initial handover to Farnborough.

You have to admire the ingenuity and chutzpah of the skipper.

His request was politely but firmly declined..

Last edited by Midland 331; 2nd Feb 2023 at 20:00.
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Old 3rd Feb 2023, 09:17
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Charter Dash 7 LCY-CMF and to Paros PAS

I had forgotten about the EXT and LCY - CMF Dash 7 charter Ski flights.

Tyrolean Airways had lead the way with Dash 7 Ski flight Ops to that airport, plus they also flew to the tiny mountain top airport of Courchevel where the airfield has a very short runway of only 537 metres with a gradient of 18.6%. There is no go-around procedure for landings at Courchevel due to the surrounding mountainous terrain.

Tyrolean also flew in the summer to the tiny runway (800m) at PAS Paros National Airport, and also to Naxos Airport, in the Greek Islands, more of that later...

Brymon Airways once it was rumoured flew a test flight with their new 50 seater Dash 7 over to St. Marys ISC (still a grass runway back then) but apparently the idea was quickly shelved and some new underwear ordered for the flight crew. The subsequent test flights in 1982 to Heron Quay, were a breeze it seems.
Of course today, with the extended hard runway at ISC the 50 seat Dash 7 would be an ideal people mover for the extremely busy route for holiday makers to the islands which is served by a fleet of Twin Otters still to this day (some are ex Brymon such as G-BIHO)

More on Paros -
Back in 1986 I was General Manager for a few years of the specialist Greek Tour Operator Kosmar Villa Holidays in Tottenham Court Rd.
We sold Package Holidays to the Saronic and Cycladic Islands including Paros, Naxos and Mykonos which entailed taking our own Friday night flight from LGW at 21:35, a KT Tristar whole charter to ATH Hellinikon airport, then a coach transfer down to the Port at Piraeus in time for the 7am Ferries, which was a laborious slow slog through the islands arriving in Paros for instance, at around 2pm in the afternoon.
These Ferries first called at Syros, and after Paros went on to Naxos, Ios and Fira (Santorini) where we also sent our holiday passengers.
The Ferries back then were pretty old, and some were ex Sealink and SNCF, but were all the essential part of a Greek Island hopping Holiday.

During those summers the KT Tristars were notoriously unreliable with TECH, and also ATC delays often of 12 hours or more, so on many a Friday night was spent at Gatwick that saw me running between the various Handling Agents, Tour Reps, and Check-in Desks trying to get our passengers on to the other ATH charters (of which back then there were many to ATH on a Friday night, including BA who themselves had 2 Scheduled flights) and all of them were very happy to assist us (with what was called amongst us, Mutual Aid) to take our Pax on their empty seats FOC.

Obviously my priority was to re-protect our Pax who had to make the early morning Ferries from the Ports of Piraeus and Rafina, which included those Pax going on holiday to Paros, Naxos, Santorini, and the nearby Saronic islands of Aegina Poros and Agistri.
Those going to Tinos, Andros and Mykonos sailed from the Port of Rafina (which is very near to the new ATH Airport)

I would be trying to get as many of our Pax on any of the 2 x BY 737s, 2 x DA 727s, the AE 737 and a 757, and the 2 x OM 757s all of which were going to ATH leaving LGW up to 22.30, Sometimes we also managed to get some on the other KT Tristar leaving earlier at 20:30 (a Thomsons charter, but only if it was leaving more or less on-time!)
There were often seats empty on the 2 BA scheduled flights, a 737 and a 757.
Usually it worked, allowing our Pax to still make the 7am ferries to the Islands and not losing 2 days of their holiday.

Then it was a case of getting a Telex off to the Kosmar Airport Rep and our ground Agents at ATH to let them know what Pax were on what flights.
I would then go in to the Office on a Sunday morning (as we were open for Telesales; we took large Ads in the big Sunday Papers for last minute bargain holidays) to give my
boss Kostas hell for always chartering the KT heap of S*** Tristars!
Because it's cheap!, he said, We make a lot of money...
Which was true, the seat rate was ridiculously low, plus we sold 50 of the 393 seats a flight each to Golden Sun Holidays, Tann Tours and to Priceright/Libra Holidays.
Thus selling those 150 seats out of the 393 were underwriting our commitments with KT and Brokers' Viking.

He then took me with all of his Greek and Cypriot mates who back then dominated the Greece Package Holiday business for a big long and boozy Lunch at the Apollonia Taverna in Percy St, rolling out there long after closing time.
Kostas liked me a lot and offered me Managing Director.


Back to Paros,
I had been asked by Kostas to do a 'recce' trip down to Greek Islands quite early in the season to check out both our existing, and look at some new Accommodation, starting first in Crete,
then I took the Olympic Aviation Dornier 228 flight up to Paros to check out our Cycladic Islands accommodation.

When I was there I saw the Tyrolean Dash 7 charter land at Paros coming in from Austria and I thought, ''Why not us >?''
Having handled Brymon at LHR for many years when I was D/O for BMA I got to know the Brymon people well so when I got back from Greece I arranged a meeting with them with a view to a charter them to Paros flying on a Friday night from the new London City.
50 seats would suit us and the Paros and Naxos passengers were willing to pay a premium to go direct if we could make it work.

So here it got interesting,
Brymon were interested and they quoted me for a weekly charter flight series on a Friday evening from MAY to SEPT.
We did out our costings and it was 'doable' to put this together to sell direct flight Package Holidays from London City to Paros,
and now this would also offer short ferry connections for Mykonos, Naxos Ios and Santorini passengers.
We put out a flyer to our Travel Agents and the interest was huge.

But,
Although the Friday night LGW-ATH charters were often seriously delayed, the norm being 12 hours or more due either ATC or TECH or both when operated by the KT's TriStars, their AOG reputation going before them especially at Weekends in the High Season causing our Pax to miss the 7am Ferries to the islands and so losing 2 days of their holiday, unfortunatelyafter much discussion with Brymon and then also LCY Airways we decided not to go ahead as Oil /Fuel costs suddenly shot up due to more looming issues in the Middle East and the Paros operation, although very exciting and doable for the Airline, plus for us, as it would sell, was now financially a potential suicide.

Of course the LCY - PAS flight had needed careful flight planning for Ops and Crewing, but BC said it would have worked for them (otherwise they would not have quoted for it)
I think the Tech stop was planned to be Rimini; I have no idea how it was to be crewed. Each sector was under 3 hours.
The flight was planned to leave LCY around 9pm with a daylight arrival over the the Island around 6am Local when the airport opened, with I assume, JMK or ATH as the diversionary;
I recall Greek Customs clearance was allowed on arrival at Paros as the Port Police would do spot checks if required.
There was no fuel at Paros so I think Mykonos or Athens was the first stop on the way back for fuel, and for the outbound Clearance.

The return landing back at LCY was to be before the 1pm SAT curfew closure there.

Tyrolean, I gather used Lemnos as an intermediate stop from Klagenfurt, even offloaded catering and sometimes one FA due to weight restrictions.
On Graz to Naxos, they stopped in Skiathos, both in - and outbound for the same reason.
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Old 3rd Feb 2023, 10:46
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Great stuff!

Speaking of Tyrolean, do I recall a Dash 7 service into Gatwick about 30 or 40 years ago? Saturday? Also vaguely recall seeing a Wideroe Dash 7 there.
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Old 3rd Feb 2023, 11:44
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I recall in the early days of ops into City from the west country that London Control wouldn't allow them to descend west of Heathrow; they had to go via OCK and then descend to the east of BIG; this happened with outbounds to the west too.
It was proposed therefore that Farnborough would work the traffic when it was approaching their area and descend it below CAS to transit to City at 2,400ft with a handover to Thames Radar.
Thereby began another problem.Thames Radar for London City traffic was operated by controllers who were initially seconded to them from other units because Heathrow couldn't/wouldn't handle the extra workload of vectoring into the City CTR.
The Thames Radar controllers weren't allowed to wait in the Heathrow part of the ops room and had to wait in the rest room while there were no City arrivals or departures until an aircraft was due then they had to go to their workstation and open up the operation, shutting down as soon as the aircraft was either remaining on the ground or it had departed. Of course this situation was eventiually solved when City traffic got busier and Thames Radar became more or less permanent
Nowadays of course, City Tower and and Thames Radar are both operated from Swanwick; there are no controllers at London City any more.
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Old 4th Feb 2023, 00:37
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Missed this thread until now.

An airport in Docklands was the idea of the Development Corporation's chief exec, Reg Ward (along with the DLR, and pushing along the first and still most prominent high rise there). Reg was ex-RAF, not a pilot, but knew Harry Gee, chief pilot at Brymon. And from there it grew. Harry did the various trial flights into Heron Quay.

I was there for the first landings, a Sunday afternoon in September 1987. Brymon and Eurocity Express came together, made some surprisingly close (for airliners) formation passes over the airport, and landed.. There was quite a crowd. I remember going onto the runway while the aircraft were on the ground and inspecting its first ever rubber marks. On departure I watched Brymon head straight out westwards, it must have been co-ordinated with Heathrow approach, A nimby group came to take sound levels by the west end, asked for silence just as Harry Gee (again) lifted off overhead and their moment of fame was due - but someone drove an old VW Beetle with a blown exhaust over the Connaught Bridge right behind them and drowned the Dash-7 out. Everyone laughed. Ruined !

Both airlines ran to Paris, which was the majority of trade, I think Brymon did Brussels as well, and Eurocity Amsterdam, and one of them did Jersey on summer weekends, but that was pretty much it. Described above was how they initially came in outside controlled airspace, until one had a too-close encounter with descending skydivers at Headcorn, and operations were halted for a short while. This may have been before Thames Radar started. Things then slowly dropped off, and the 146 expansion came only just in time, I think it would have closed otherwise. Brymon had done Paris in association with Air France, I think when they finally let go the latter took over with an F70 for a year or two. As noted above Brymon later moved closer to BA and adopted their livery, but I don't think were ever branded as such here at City. The Dash 7 went out of production, both Brymon and Eurocity got some of the last new examples as the line was closing.

As well as the Dash 7 Brymon brought in a few times a Twin Otter, not sure what for. It was notably noisier.

I learnt lots of my PPL RT exam from listening to City Tower and Thames Radar on an airband receiver. Various chats with the latter then ensued over time, never a chance with the former !

Originally Posted by chevvron
I recall in the early days of ops into City from the west country that London Control wouldn't allow them to descend west of Heathrow; they had to go via OCK and then descend to the east of BIG; this happened with outbounds to the west too.
Still sort-of like that. Last summer, BA Cityflyer E190 to Jersey, departure on westerlies, turn east to overhead Southend, then Lydd, then jog-trot right along the coast to Portland before turning for Jersey.

Last edited by WHBM; 4th Feb 2023 at 12:07.
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