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British North Borneo.

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British North Borneo.

Old 31st Dec 2010, 10:34
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British North Borneo.

Anyone out there privy to the fortunes of a small group of 1950- 1960s pilots who pioneered Borneo Airways? Based on the island of Labuan it was a feeder line connected to Singapore's Malayan Airways ( parent of todays Singapore Airlines ) and operated into the remote regions of British North Borneo. It's now a long way back but perhaps someone knows what happened to these old time colleagues.
--- Robbie Robinson, Roy Nichols, Harry O'Court, Bob Skitch, Phil Caroline, John Kean, Stan Dinsdale, Dave Baker ---

Prince of Dzun.
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Old 1st Jan 2011, 00:24
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Borneo Airways

I worked with all those guys (and a few others not mentioned like 'Rusty Russell and 'Tony Smith) in MSA, another predecessor of SQ.
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Old 14th Oct 2013, 01:13
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Captain Peter Tame

I joined Borneo Airways in April 1963. I retired from SIA in 1998 after 35 years.
As far as I know, Robbie declined to join MSA and remained in Sabah. Roy returned to UK and died shortly after. Harry O'Court, Bob Skitch, Phil Caroline joined MSA. Dave Baker and Mike Dearden went to Cathay and later to UK where they set up a single aircraft charter company which I believe was a failure. Bob Skitch retired and set up a shoe company in Singapore and later went to Oz (Perth) where he was killed in a car crash. Harry A'Court retired to England and settled near Bristol. Phil Caroline retired in Singapore.

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Old 15th Oct 2013, 07:55
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Borneo Airways:

Peter Tame;

Interesting to read what you say about those old colleagues of mine. Sorry to hear about Roy Nichols and Bob Skitch, Roy endorsed me (if that's the word) on the DH-89A of Borneo Airways, seems a long long time ago. I did not know about the aviation venture of Dave Baker and Mike Dearden. (always admired the Triumph Twin that Mike rode around Hongkong) I left Harry Rodricks name off the list which is unforgivable as he was a close friend. If you knew any the gents mentioned here then you must know me, send me a PM. Regards,

ExAMM;
Knew and liked Stan Dinsdale, he was very easy to be with. Stan flew the DH-89A out of Labuan in 1957 and then went back to Malayan Airways in Singapore. Regards,

Dzun.
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Old 16th Oct 2013, 10:05
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Borneo Airways

I suspect I just missed you, although I have heard your name. BAL had just replacd the Rapide with the Twin Pin when I joined which was a shame as I had it on my licence but had a bunch of fun on the Twin Pin.
I was on our first 747 course with Harry Rodrick, Pete Flanagan and other criminals in Seattle before Harry died of a massive heart attack while on leave in Oz. What a gentlemen.
I am presently writing my Borneo memoirs, having finished a book (unpublished) about my adventures in the Yemen revolving round the 1962 revolution. Will send you a PM. Best wishes.
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Old 19th May 2016, 16:58
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Borneo Airways

Hello gents, I have just come across your thread regarding Borneo Airways. I am Andrew Nicholls (please note the 2 ll's), son of Roy Nicholls. I can add to, and correct a couple of inaccuracies.
My Dad did indeed die shortly after returning to the UK - the scotch got to him! However, Bob Skitch did not die in a car crash in Australia. He became my mothers third husband, and they live for around 10 years in Loughton, Essex UK.
I am returning to Labuan next March if any of you are interested in chatting about the those times - I was 8 years old when we left Labuan and moved to Singapore.
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Old 19th May 2016, 17:24
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Borneo Airways

I'm not sure my response went first time, so I'm sending again.
I am Andrew Nicholls, son of Roy Nicholls, the Borneo Airways pilot. I lived in Labuan from the age of 6 weeks ,from 1956 to around 1965 when we moved to Singapore. I do remember most of the pilots you talked about. I'd just like to correct a slight inaccuracy. My father did indeed die shortly after returning to the UK - sadly, the scotch whisky got to him. However, Bob Skitch did not die in a car crash in Australia. He and my mother got together, I think, in the early 90's and Bob became my mothers 3rd husband! They lived in Loughton, Essex UK for about 10 years before they both passed away. I'm returning to Labuan next March, and plan to visit our old house which still appears to be there according to Google Earth. Let me know if you'd like to get together when I'm there.
PS. I still have a silver tankard presented to my father - Darts Champion Labuan Yacht Club 1965
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Old 20th May 2016, 06:56
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Captain Roy Nicholls Borneo Airways:

Andy 3519:
How nice to come across this Borneo Airways thread once again.
I am sure you will smile at the following which took place between your Dad as Chief Pilot of Borneo Airways and myself when I reported to him as a new pilot on a six month transfer from Malayan Airways in Singapore. Consider I had never ever seen a DH-89a and he had to sign me out as competent to operate the aircraft.
Your Dad: "Do you think you can handle this machine"?
Me: "Yes I think I can".
Your Dad: "OK, jump into the seat and start it up and let's get going".
As you may remember the DH-89a Rapide had only one pilot's seat so there was no place for an instructor to assist if things went wrong. Your Dad had to stand in the companionway between the passenger cabin and the cockpit and observe what happened. I rather liked his relaxed attitude but at the same time was very conscious that he was watching me closely. According to my log book this took place on 6th March 1957 at Labuan and the Rapide was VR-OAC. Next day I was on my own with passengers Labuan-Brunei-Anduki-Labuan. That's how it was done in those memorable easy going days.
Regards
O.P.

P.S. My nom de plume used to be Prince of Dzun but is now changed to Ocean Person.
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Old 20th May 2016, 11:10
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Hi Ocean Person, thanks so much for your response. The threads were so old I wasn't sure anyone would see my comments. Great story about you flying lesson in the Rapide. My understanding is that my mother flew back to England where I was born (5/12/56) and aged 6 weeks, my father flew the 3 of us back to Borneo in the Rapide - i think my sister has a number of photos from the journey.
Do you mind me asking, what is your real name? Did we ever meet? Where are you based now?
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Old 20th May 2016, 13:36
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Gentlemen,
Curious to read this thread,even more so as 1957 was the year of my birth..
If any of you are in Labuan next year,and fancy a ride to Brunei,out of curiosity,I can offer my motor skiff..just 50 mins in a following breeze,waves permitting...
Feel free to private message me...
Cheers and good luck with your information seeking.
Martin G.
RBA!
Brunei.
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Old 22nd May 2016, 06:04
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Borneo Airways:

Andy 3519:
The routes flown by Borneo Airways were rather memorable in so far as the landscape was both interesting and spectacular. Consider the flight from Jesselton to Kudat at low level along white sandy beaches, blue green crystal clear water and palm trees. Then on the way to Ranau there was the towering presence of 14,000' Mount Kinabalu. Especially so when the Rapides' wing tip was up against its cliffs. Include the hostile jungle around Tawau on the Indonesian border and it all added up to an aviators' paradise. The pioneer aviatior Antoine de-Saint Exupery author and man of letters once said: quote:
" Memories are indeed hidden wealth" unquote. He was 100% right about that.
Be interesting to hear how you feel about your visit to modern Labuan. I guess it has changed a lot. Regards

O.P.
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Old 22nd May 2016, 08:26
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Borneo Airways

Photo of Roy Nicholls and Rusty Russell.
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Old 22nd May 2016, 08:30
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Borneo Airways

Betty and Roy Nicholls, Robbie Robinson (big moustche) - not sure who the other two are
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Old 22nd May 2016, 08:36
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Borneo Airways

Bob Skitch, Keith Hotchkiss (who died in an RTA) and Betty Nicholls.
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Old 22nd May 2016, 16:59
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Anyone remember my father?

Hello. My name is Caroline and I am the only child of Derek and Helen Butcher. We came out in late 1961. I remember Phil caroline,Bob Skitch,Peter Tame,Roy Nicholls and Robbie Robertson, Dave Baker and Rusty Russell. Anyone remember me?
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Old 23rd May 2016, 09:07
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Chief Pilot Malayan Airways:

andy3519:

The other two people in your second photograph are Denny Fenton and his wife Betty. Denny was Chief Pilot for Malayan Airways from its inception after WW2 until about 1962. Great guy, one of the very best. Your dad and mother get a number of mentions in the book "Chance Encounters" by Arthur Larkman which is an autobiography of Arthur's life as a pilot with Malayan Airways and Dan Air. It is out of print now but I notice Abe Books have a few copies. (Amazon do not have it.) Regards,

O.P.

Caroline:
I did not have the pleasure of meeting you as I was back in Singapore in 1961 when you arrived in Borneo. The names you mentioned are all very familiar to me. It all happened a long time ago but it just seems like yesterday. My very best to you,
O.P.
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Old 23rd May 2016, 11:07
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Borneo Airways

Thanks so much Ocean Person (would love to know your real name!). I have just ordered the book from Abe Books for the price of 71p!! The shipping was 3 times that.
Andy
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Old 25th May 2016, 14:56
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I think Dave Baker might have been involved in an incident with the RAF when a Javelin from RAF Labuan was sent to investigate a Borneo Airways Dakota. As the Javelin flew around, things started to go wrong and the two crew exited courtesy of Messrs Martin and Baker. Dave Baker then flew around the crash site and homed the rescue services.

Subsequently when Baker moved to Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong, the rescued Javelin crew would meet up for a hooly when visiting HK with the Javelin detachment.

I must say as a red blooded male, the air hostesses - by then on the MAL Air Dakotas - were of more interest than the airframe drivers. Fanny Voon, Augusta Sammy, Bibianna Bensuil to mention but a few.

Old Duffer
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Old 26th May 2016, 06:38
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This thread brings back a lot of memories - my father was a ground engineer for Malayan Airways from 1951 to 1956 so I knew many of the aircrew mentioned - the Russels and the Larkmans were next door neighbours for a time - my mother was godmother to Roderick Larkman. I flew with Terry Cheoli to do a payroll drop over estates in Johore,afterwards chasing trains at zero feet and brushing the wheels of the Cessna 170 on the vegetation. I had an absolutely fantastic boyhood there - some of the personalities were incredible.

Last edited by bcgallacher; 3rd Jun 2016 at 07:16.
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Old 27th May 2016, 14:02
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Hi, did you spend any more time in the Far East, apart from 1951-1956? Did your dad ever work for Borneo Airways?
Andy
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