Steve Frampton has some fond memories of the VC10 as both he and his wife used to work as cabin crew for BOAC in the early seventies. The photo below, taken in Bahrein, is a reminder of those days.
This photo has been on this site for a while now, but recently I was contacted by Steve and as it turned out there was a lot more to the story than that, including a recent anniversary that was celebrated in style! Let's hear it from him.
"In 1972 I was working as a Steward for BOAC. I was working on the VC10 as well as the Boeing 707 and doing long haul trips. On 30th January 1972 I was on a 3 week round the World trip (on VC10s) and on a night stop in Singapore. A lovely Stewardess called Carole (see photo above) joined our crew there to continue on the rest of the trip with us. Well by the time we reached Los Angeles it was obvious to the rest of the crew that we were in love. So much in fact that the aircraft Captain performed a mock wedding ceremony for us! We returned to England, were engaged a few weeks later, and then married on September 2nd that year.
We had both always loved the VC10. It was a superb aircraft to work on, smooth, comfortable, quiet (well on the inside!) and beautiful looking. Anyway especially since that day it always held a special place in our hearts and I had always wanted to see one again.
It was my birthday on 28th January and as a surprise for me my wife had written to the Officer in Charge at RAF Brize Norton to see if it was possible for us to visit the base and have a look at the VC10 again. They had agreed that we could spend a couple of hours there looking around and taking photos, I was overjoyed with that. The next day I telephoned a good friend of mine to tell him what Carole had arranged, his son is actually an RAF pilot based at Brize Norton. Later that day he telephoned me to say that his son had 'pulled a few strings' and arranged for us to fly in a VC10.
We drove up on the Thursday night, met Pilot Officer Kurt Baldwin (my friend son) and stayed the night in the Officers Mess where we had
an early breakfast. That day, 30th January 2004, was actually 32 years to the day that we met in Singapore and first flew together on a VC10. At 9 am we boarded a VC10 and took off bound for the North Sea. It was an incredible moment and one that I had never envisaged in my wildest dreams. The Captain explained that we were going to be refuelling Tornados. There were about 23 seats at the front of the aircraft and a small galley where a steward looked after us with teas, coffees and a boxed lunch. Through a door behind the seats at the rear of the aircraft were the fuel tanks with easy access each side. We had the run of the aircraft and could visit the flight deck and talk to the crew when we wanted too.
The moment the Tornados arrived was incredible. Four arrived and refuelled two at a time. It was an unbelievable experience to look at the window and see the planes just a few feet away and wave to the pilots!
In total we refuelled 11 Tornados before making our way back to base.
At Brize Norton we had lunch with Kurt in the officers mess and then went to the control tower. We had a guided tour and went out on the balcony to watch 2 VC10s take off, as well as a
Tristar practicing take off and landings. It was an awesome sight watching the VC10s and the sound was amazing. Interestingly we learnt that now that Concorde is no longer flying the VC10 is the Worlds fastest commercial airliner.
We then made our way to the VC10 flight simulator where I was told to sit in the Captains seat. Although I love the VC10s I have never had the inclination to fly one so it was all rather baffling. After a couple of minutes explanation Kurt then got me to perform a take-off and circuit. As he lined me up for the landing he said just line it up as if you are going to crash! Well he aborted that landing and I did another circuit. This landing proved to be even worse. There are not many people who have walked away from a VC10 crash landing!! Great fun. We then said our goodbyes and made our way home.
It was an unbelievable day and I cannot thanks the RAF enough for making it possible. Looking back on it now it seems as if was all a dream!"
Airborne with the Tornados turning up
There were more spectators on this flight!
Some views of the refuelling process, including a view from the cockpit through the CCTV system
Steve and Carole Frampton, back on board a VC10 after many years, including a re-enactment of the photo at the top of this page!
Some of the VC10s at Brize Norton, with a replacement basket being installed on the centre hose
Views from the tower with K3 ZA149 taxiing past on its way to the runway, and seen taking off
All photos S. Frampton