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News Archive - 2003/2004


Brooklands VC10 turns 40!

The Brooklands Museum, October 2004

On 17th October it will be exactly 40 years ago that G-ASIX, a type 1103 Standard VC10 ordered by British United Airways, felt air under its wings for the first time when she took off from Brooklands on her first flight to Wisley. After a long and varied career she returned to her place of birth where she is still lovingly cared for.

To commemorate this first flight The Brooklands Museum will host a small celebration on 17th October in the aircraft. Below is the full press release about this event.

BROOKLANDS MUSEUM

PRESS INFORMATION OCTOBER 2004

 

Happy Anniversary Planned For a Giant Of The Skies

The most lavish version of the largest jet aircraft ever completely built in the UK celebrates the 40th anniversary of its inaugural flight this coming Sunday (October 17) with an all-day party at Brooklands Museum.

A ‘toasting’ glass of wine and miniature birthday cakes will be served to visitors on board the mighty VC10 airliner, one of the stars of the collection at Brooklands Museum, which was first flown from Brooklands four decades ago by Lew Roberts, Vickers Production Test Pilot.
The aircraft returned to the birthplace of British aviation in 1987 in the livery of the Sultan of Oman’s Royal Flight, fitted out like a royal palace having been the Sultan’s personal transport for 13 years.
The custom interior with bedrooms, bathroom, lounge and office suites remains intact and visitors to the museum on Brooklands Road between Weybridge and Byfleet this Sunday with be able to tour the luxurious quarters while the whole aircraft will be decorated with balloons.
The aircraft was first delivered to British United Airways for operations out of Gatwick. It transferred to British Caledonian in 1970 before being purchased by the Omani government four years later.
The prototype VC10 intercontinental airliner powered by four Rolls-Royce Conway aft mounted engines first flew in a test flight from Brooklands in 1962. It was the last complete aircraft type to be built at the site. It was renowned for the quietness of its interior and spacious passenger accommodation.

Brooklands Museum opens at 10 am and usual admission prices will apply although a donation towards the upkeep of the VC10 would be welcomed.

End

Press Information: Julian Temple, curator of aviation at Brooklands Museum, on 01932 857381.


Extensive VC10 coverage in latest PC Pilot

PC Pilot Magazine, October 2004

The latest issue of PC Pilot Magazine, available in the shops from 14th October, features an in-debt feature about flying VC10 simulators written by Flt Lt Andy Townshend, who is also an enthusiastic contributor to this site. In his normal day-time job as a pilot with the RAF's 10 Sqn he is well acquainted with VC10s, but the only simulator for him is the one in which he practices emergencies. Through that same job he has provided two well-known names in the Flight Simulator community with an opportunity to compare the flying characteristics of Microsoft's program, and their own programming, to a full-size VC10 simulator!

The same issue also showcases David Maltby's designs for Flight Simulator in a separate article, which includes the VC10 of course. For a copy of this not-to-be missed magazine, rush to the shops or order online through the website link above!


St. Athan delivers a refurbished VC10 again, and scraps one

St. Athan Newsletter, August 2004

After spending several months inside the St. Athan Maintenance hangar, VC10 K.3 ZA147 left the base on 5th July 2004 still in bare metal and flew to Filton to be repainted. She has now rejoined 101 squadron and is actively flying again with a new lease on life.

On a sadder note, the remains of ZA142, the last VC10 K.2 in existence were cut up on 30 May 2004. This leaves only G-ARVF and G-ARVM as the remaining examples of BOAC's original fleet of Type 1101 Standard VC10s.


Aircraft re-shuffle at Brooklands

Brooklands Museum, 7 June 2004

After months of preparation the big move has finally happened. After spending 17 years parked on the former airfield at the Brooklands site where she was built VC10 A40-AB was finally moved across the river Wey into the museum grounds together with Vanguard G-APEP. The full story with photos can be seen on this page:

Moving Aircraft at Brooklands


Super VC10's fortieth birthday

7 May 2004

It was pointed out to me by a visitor of my site through a message in my guestbook that today is a special day as it marks the fortieth anniversary of the Super VC10's first flight. On 7th May 1964 G-ASGA took off from Weybridge for the first time on the short trip to Wisley, where the development of this major sub-type took place. Since that day the Supers have flown all around the world in service with BOAC/British Airways and East African Airways, and since their retirement from airline flying have provided sterling service with the RAF as three point refuelling tankers. Eight examples out of the original production run of 22 are still flying with 101 Sqn, not bad considering their age!

(And thanks for the hint Mike!)


A40-AB weighed in preparation for move

Brooklands Museum, March 2004

Planned changes around the site of the Brooklands Museum mean that the VC10 and Vanguard which are currently parked on the old airfield will be moved to the other side of the river where they will be inside museum grounds. The location where they are now was never owned by the museum, which has sometimes restricted access for visitors. The main reason for keeping the aircraft there has always been the fact that the bridge leading to the museum terrain would not accomodate the width and weight of the VC10, therefore different arrangements will be made for the planned operation.

In preparation for this both aircraft were weighed recently to make sure that accurate figures could be used in all the planning. Resident off-road recovery vehicle 'Miss Milly Tant' was used to pull the VC10 forward onto low profile scales as the photos below show. The end result was a healthy 70 tons.


Pulling the VC10 forward
Photo M. Strick

The nose gear positioned correctly on the scales
Photo M. Strick

As well as the main gears
Photo M. Strick

New VC10 for Microsoft Flight Simulator released

Tenweb / Abacus systems, March 2004

After announcing their Flight Simulator add-on in November of last year, Abacus systems has now released its Vickers VC10 package. Suitable for both Flight Simulator 2002 and 2004 - A Century of Flight, the package models the Super VC10 in three different liveries and also includes the panel that was already available from their website. Both BOAC/British Airways and RAF versions are included, with extra liveries planned to become available later. The simulation includes a fully equipped virtual cockpit and a sound set is currently being created and will also become available.

For more details read the official announcement from Abacus Systems.

The software package can be obtained through the Tenweb website at http://www.vc10.com. The price is currently £14.95 UK Sterling or €19.95, if you previously bought the 2D panel you are eligible for a discount on the full package.


G-ARTA First Flight Transparency for sale on Ebay

Via P. Mugridge, March 2004

A transparency showing a colour photo of the first ever take-off of G-ARTA from the Weybridge runway has been placed for sale on the auction site Ebay. The 20 x 24 inches (approximately) sized plastic transparency was produced for marketing and PR purposes and is meant to be viewed using a light-box. The image is from a BAC photo, the negative of which is held by the Brooklands Museum.


Scanned polaroid photo of the transparency against a window, the low quality is a result of the photo
Photo P. Mugridge / Ebay


Black and white version showing almost the same image
Photo courtesy of P. Robinson

The item was found in the BOAC archives during a clear out following the merger with BEA to create British Airways. It has been in the hands of the current owner ever since, who has always kept it in darkness to help preserve the image. He is now offering it for sale to an enthusiast who would appreciate the item and care for it. For more information click the link below and browse the list for 'Unique VC10 maiden flight transparency'.

Click here to view the list of items offered by this seller on Ebay


ZD235 now completely scrapped

St. Athan Newsletter, January 2004

Recent work at St. Athan has seen the demise of ZD235, the final bits of which where scrapped on 7 january 2004. ZA142 is still around, but has already been reduced to a fuselage section on its gear.

XV109 was seen undergoing airtests on 28 - 30 january 2004 and by the time this is read should have departed to Filton for repainting. The next aircraft in the cue has arrived from the paintstrippers in the meantime. This is K3 ZA147 which landed at the maintenance base on 16 january 2004.


RAF VC10 fleet gets support until 2011

Flight International, January 2004

Flight International sported the following news in January:

The UK Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) has placed a contract worth £207 million to support the RAF Vickers VC10 fleet until its planned out-of-service date of 2011. BAE Systems Customer Solutions and Support and the UK Defence Aviation Repair Agency will conduct work on the 19 strong fleet. The framework for the contract is similar to the contract already in place supporting the Nimrod MR2.

The UKs Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft programme will replace the VC10 and Tristar fleet with either A330-200 or B767-300ER starting in 2008. The £13 billion contact is expected to be announced early this year.

By now the decision has been made to go with the Airbus proposal, but until 2011 we will see VC10s gracing the skies. Not bad as by then the design will be 49 years old!


More Centenary of Flight

Aeroplane, December 2003

The commemorative issue of Aeroplane Magazine includes a feature on 100 great aircraft. Subdivided into ten top-ten listings and with headings like 'Long-serving', 'World changing' and 'Eyecatching' (but also 'Ugly-looking' and 'Terrifying') it provides a selection of types that played significant parts in the first century of powered flight. The list that is significant to visitors of this site is the one headed 'Pilot-thrilling ... 10 flyers' favourites' as at the top of that list, proudly poised on number 1 is the Vickers VC10. In itself this is a great honour, but it isn't until the rest of the list is revealed that the true significance is shown. Out of the other nine contestants, seven are fighter aircraft! Moving down the list from the first place, on fourth is the first twin-engined aircraft in the guise of the de Havilland Hornet, numbers two and three being single-engined. The first other non-military aircraft is the Stampe SV-4 sports biplane on number 7, and the only other four engined aircraft can be found at ten, this being the Avro Lancaster. With this competition the fact that the VC10 received top marks is a very profound statement, and a tribute to its handling qualities!

Here is the full listing:

Pilot-thrilling ... 10 flyers' favourites

  1. Vickers VC10 A pilot's airliner that also beguiled its passengers
  2. North American F-86 Sabre The classic second-generation jet fighter
  3. Hawker Hart An elegant two-seat day bomber of the 1930s that delighted its pilots
  4. de Havilland Hornet The ultimate twin-piston fighter, evolved from the classic Mosquito
  5. Sopwith Pup A First World War fighter beloved by all who flew it
  6. Armstrong Whitworth Siskin Agile and manouverable radial-engined inter-war fighter
  7. Stampe SV-4 A classic sporting biplane renowned for its aerobatic qualities
  8. Hawker Hurricane A distant descendant of the Pup with similarly wide pilot appeal
  9. North American P-51 Mustang One of the greatest Second World War single-seat fighters, an ace-maker
  10. Avro Lancaster A pilot's favourite with exceptional handling qualities for a multi-engine type

Centenary of Flight & Christmas wishes

December 2003

It is a strange thought sometimes to think that aviation as we know it is only 100 years old, but on 17th december 2003 it was exactly that many years ago that Wilbur and Orville managed to take that first tentative step into the world of flight. Obviously many others contributed to the research and knowledge that led to that day, but it is they who are credited with solving the riddle for the first time.

My personal celebration of this day can be summed up by the photo above, on short final to land at Lelystad airport with the sun setting and only a few more minutes away from the exact time on which that first flight took place. There's no telling what the next century will hold for aviation but the first one is now well and truly over, so we'll soon find out!

I would also like to take this opportunity and wish you all:

a very merry christmas and all the best wishes for 2004!

One thing I can promise for next year is this: A Little VC10derness will continue to grow, and the first step will be a move to a new server. There's not much to see yet but the curious can take a peek at this new address, which is where you will soon find this site again: http://www.vc10.net. The forum is already established there, and the rest will follow!


A DVD for Christmas?

Avion Video, November 2003

It is that time of the year again when Christmas wish lists are being made everywhere. For the aviation enthusiasts there are two DVDs that have been recently released by Avion Video which might just be the thing you would want to see under your Christmas tree!

London Airport - Heathrow in the 1960s & 70s - A wonderful programme showing London Heathrow during the years when VC10s visited the airport on a daily basis.
For a full review of the DVD (VHS version also available) click here.

Vickers Props Farewell - A poignant look at the last days of the Vickers Viscounts and Vanguards. Filled with many images of these workhorses this is a must for the real turboprop fan!
Go to the Avion Video website for more details.

Many more high quality programmes (including their VC10 DVD/VHS reviewed here) are also available from the Avion Video website.


A new VC10 for MS Flight Simulator 2004

Tenweb / Abacus systems, November 2003

Abacus systems, who now hosts the VC10 website 'Tenweb' has recently announced that they are designing a VC10 panel and aircraft model package for Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2004, with 2002 also being supported. Release dates and prices have not been released yet, but previews are available on the website: Tenweb.

Update (1 December 2003): The VC10 panel has been released at £ 5,88 per package. By buying the panel now you will be eligible for a discount off the full VC10 release. Sales are by telephone order only for now, see the website for details. For a look at the panel see the 'Fly a VC10' page.


Farewell Concorde!

24 October 2003

After 27 years of supersonic passenger service the arrival of G-BOAE, G-BOAF and G-BOAG in quick succession at Heathrow Airport marks the end of the line for Concorde. This stablemate of the VC10, being partly designed and built at the BAC Weybridge site, is without argument still the most striking design ever to take flight but after today it will only be seen in museums.


Photo J. Hieminga

The final disposition of the seven airframes has not been confirmed yet by British Airways, but with some luck one of the Concordes will find its way back to its birthplace at Weybridge, to the Brooklands Museum.


And XV107 has to go back again

Various sources, October 2003

As expected XV107 underwent an airtest on 16 September, and departed to Filton for a new coat of paint the next day. All was not well however and a minor undercarriage snag meant a return (in its new colours) to St. Athan to rectify the problem. It should be ready to go again sometime around 8 October. In the meantime XV109 was paintstripped at Filton in preparation for its turn at St. Athan, departing Filton on 12 September. From that day she has been at St. Athan and will be there for the next couple of weeks.


XV107 back from maintenance

St. Athan newsletter, August 2003

After undergoing major servicing at DARA St. Athan for the past couple of months, XV107 was seen outside of the hangar during the month of August for engine runs. This indicates a return to active squadron service in the near future.


VC10 stars in documentary

BBC TV, August 2003

August 3rd saw the airing of the first part of a three part documentary on BBC2 called 'Crowded skies'. The series takes a critical look at air traffic control, specifically at the role they played in some selected incidents. To support the re-enactment of an incident where an IL-76 was involved, the cockpit of VC10 A4O-AB was used as told in another story on this page. Apparently the vigilant viewer may have noticed a 'Vickers Armstrong' logo on the control columns at one point during the program, but apart from that the result was convincing.


VC10 salutes its designer

June 2003

A thanksgiving service was held for Sir George Edwards on Monday, 23th June at Guildford Cathedral. Apart from the support from BAe Systems and the RAF (the Central Band of the RAF played the 'Dambusters' March' at the end), a VC10 also saluted its designer. It appeared precisely on time at 13:45 heading east up the A3 road and its impressive flypast was met by spontaneous applause as it passed directly over the cathedral. It turned around soon after and could be seen leaving to the west. With many aerospace personalities from past and present at the service it was a fitting occasion.

The aircraft was a VC10 K3 from 101 Squadron, registration ZA147. After the flypast it flew on towards Germany and Holland for an air refuelling sortie, giving away 23 tons of fuel to Jaguars and Harriers.


Tenweb back online!

Tenweb, May 2003

The news that Ceri Jones' site Tenweb was about to close was noticed by David Chester who couldn't let this pass without some thought. He offered to take over the site and host it on a new server, without changing the recognisable internet-address. So since late May 2003 TenWeb is back online again and off to a new future!


VC10 film star

Brooklands Museum, May 2003

The VC10 at the Brooklands Museum (G-ASIX/A4O-AB) was hired for a full day in early May by 'Blast! Films' to shoot cockpit scenes for a future BBC TV drama reconstruction on Air Traffic Control. For its role in this production the VC10 cockpit was made to resemble a Russian Il-76(!) with a radio operator's position just inside the left side. The team that looks after the aircraft co-operated with the film crew to get everything looking 'just right' and a group of Russian actors formed the crew.


Airfix VC10 released

Airfix, May 2003


New artwork on the VC10 K2 kit from Airfix

As announced earlier well-known kit-maker Airfix has now released its VC10 K2 in 1/144 scale. This is a re-issue of its original kit which featured the same aircraft in the camouflage scheme that was worn on the K2 prototype only. For the re-release new decals have been produced which provide the option of two paint schemes (the 1991 'hemp' colours or the newer all-over grey scheme) with decals for all five K2s. The contents of the kit look good, but upon close inspection the age of the kit does become apparent as the large wing mounted fences installed on every VC10 are not included! My guess is that Airfix created the kit as a BOAC Standard VC10 when the aircraft was still being tested, and years later converted the moulds to create the K2 Tanker version. Because of this the addition of the wing fences later on during the test program was never incorporated in the kit, and it is a shame that Airfix hasn't used the re-release as an opportunity to rectify this. Obviously modellers will be able to recreate these fences with a small piece of plastic card if they want to make sure that all the details are correct! Once I finish my own model I will post the result here (if my model-making skills have not deteriorated too much of course).


The contents of the re-released kit


St. Athan Movements

St. Athan Newsletter, April - May 2003

VC10 K3 ZA149 was seen on airtests during March 2003, still unmarked, and left for Filton to be repainted on 1 April (no joke!). VC10 C1K XV107 arrived three days later as the next aircraft in line to undergo major servicing. Both ZA142 and ZD235 were spotted in the scrap bay during these months in a state of partial dismantling.


Classic Wings - VC10 out on DVD

Avion Video, April 2003

The much acclaimed Avion Video production 'Classic Wings - Vickers VC10' is now also available on DVD. Apart from the menu offering scene selection this will now bring the full digital quality of both image and sound to your own living room (provided you own a DVD player of course). 

The best news yet is that the price remains the same, so for £17,95 plus postage you now have the option of choosing the VHS or DVD release. For more info visit the DVD page on the Avion Video website.

For a full review of the video click here.


VC10 website closed

Tenweb, April 2003

As the existing collection of VC10 websites never even got to grow to more than three members, it is unfortunate to note that this has shrunk to two again! Due to lack of spare time Ceri Jones will be unable to keep up his efforts to keep his site named 'Tenweb' running and has decided to close it. Although he has offered the domain to others it looks as though there were no takers as the website has now truly ceased to exist.


Sir George Edwards passed away

March 2003


Sir George Edwards seen at Brooklands on the day of the arrival the Sultan of Oman's VC10, 6th August 1987
Photo A. Pruden

On 2nd March 2003 an engineer and designer of genius passed away, aged 94, closing a varied life of huge achievement carried with modesty and humour.

Sir George Edwards, OM, CBE, chairman, British Aircraft Corporation, 1963-75, was born on July 9, 1908. On graduation from London University in Engineering, he joined the design section of Vickers-Armstrongs, Limited at Weybridge. In 1939, he was appointed Experimental Works Manager and in 1941 was seconded to the government to advise on expedited aircraft production. In September 1945, he was appointed Chief Designer of the team that produced the Viking, Valetta, Varsity, Viscount and Valiant.

While serving as Managing Director of Vickers-Armstrongs Aircraft, he was knighted in 1957. In this period, he was associated with development of the Vanguard, VC10 and TSR 2. In May 1961, Sir George as Executive Director - Aircraft, British Aircraft Corporation, initiated the BAC One Eleven jet airliner. Then came a series of major international ventures for the British aircraft industry. These would include Concorde, Jaguar and the Panavia Tornado, Multi Role Combat Aircraft.

From Wellesley to Concorde, his life has not only paralleled some of the greatest achievements in the history of aviation, he has also left an indelible stamp on it with his designing genius and great leadership. Apart from aviation his interests also included painting and cricket.

May this great man rest in peace.

Click here to read the obituaries that appeared in various publications


VC10 Airfix model on its way

March 2003

Airfix will release a 1/144 scale model of a VC10 K2 this year. Although the official Airfix website is down for maintenance several sources have confirmed this rumour, giving modelers once again the chance to add this wonderful aircraft to their collection.


The original version of Airfix' VC10 kit, artwork for the new version has not been released yet

The model is based on their previous kit which has long been out of production, but which has been updated with new decals and paintschemes for the RAF K2 version.


RAF VC10s in Magazine

Airways Magazine, January 2003

The February issue of Airways magazine features a well-done article on the VC10. The 6 page feature briefly outlines the VC10's past and thereafter the author takes us along on an RAF sortie with the crew of ZD240 as they fly a 3,5 hour refuelling mission from RAF Brize Norton.


VC10 models found

Luchtvaarthobbyshop, January 2003

Finding a model of a VC10 is something that doesn't happen everyday as, unfortunately, model-makers these days seem more content in producing endless rows of Boeing/Airbus derivatives. The few options left available I already mentioned on this same page, but on a visit to the recently enlarged Luchtvaarthobbyshop (Aviation hobby shop) in Aalsmeerderbrug, The Netherlands (right next to Schiphol Airport) I found that they had two examples of the Aero-Mini released die-cast model shown below. Selling at 89,95 Euros these models are obviously not new seeing that it was a 70's production, but still might make an interesting aquisition for the collector. If you would be interested in one of these models contact the Luchtvaarthobbyshop through their website.


This die-cast model is approx. 10" long and although showing its age is in perfect condition
Photo J. Hieminga

The Aero-Mini logo is shown just in front of the retractable (!) undercarriage
Photo J. Hieminga

Both models are packaged in their original boxes
Photo J. Hieminga

There is more excitement yet! This model is not for sale I'm afraid, but still worth looking at. Poised high above the counter (and therefore I had already walked past it four times without noticing!) is this airline display model of an EAA Super VC10. Completely restored by one of the shop's employees the model is in as-new condition.


Measuring over 3 feet long, this model is not suitable for small display cabinets
Photo J. Hieminga

The clear fuselage sides show EAA's unique cabin layout: first class, then freight followed by economy, made possible by the main deck cargo door
Photo J. Hieminga

With thanks to Marcel v/d Willik for letting me photograph the models.


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