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News

Dear reader, please bear in mind that news about VC10s is sparse. I don't expect many news items, on the other hand... you never can tell, so be sure to check frequently. For the latest news please keep an eye on the VC10 forum and the A Little VC10derness Facebook page as items of interest sometimes turn up at these locations first, before these pages are updated. Scroll to the bottom of this page for archived news items.


Freddie: The Second Coming of Sir Freddie Laker is available

Recursive Publishing, June 2021

Ania Grzesik and Gregory Dix published the very well researched and complete biography 'Laker' in 2019, which finally made the full story of Freddie Laker's amazing history available. This book ended at Laker Airways' financial downfall in 1982 and did leave the reader wondering: what happens next? This question has now been answered with the release of the follow up 'Freddie: The Second Coming of Sir Freddie Laker'. This book picks up where 'Laker' ended and describes the aftermath of the airline's bankrupcy, the huge antitrust case that was filed and then delves into Sir Freddie's financial recovery and his new Laker Airways (Bahamas) that emerged 10 years after the original Laker Airways went bust. Sadly, co-author Gregory Dix passed away in 2021 and did not get to see the release of this second volume. His hard work has resulted in a book that completes the story and serves as a wonderful tribute to a great businessman. Available now from Recursive Publishing or Amazon.

As it deals with the period after 1982, Sir Freddie's involvement with BUA and the VC10 is not covered in 'Freddie', for that story, have a look at the earlier volume 'Laker'. If you enjoyed 'Laker', you should really get yourself a copy of this second volume too!


Ascot Airways, a book about the life of a 10 Sqn steward, now out

Amazon, June 2021


Image via R. Whittingham

Robert Whittingham has published a book about his career as a steward with No.10 Squadron, looking after the varied passengers on 'RAF Airlines'. One story that is in the book is his account of how he was part of the crew that rushed to Addis Ababa on XR808 to take the survivors and wounded from the 5X-UVA crash back to the UK, which is also on the RAFBF site here. There are lots of other stories included as well, such as one about a test flight on Concorde, or about the time when he approached Air Force One and heard "Stop, or I will shoot" and several anecdotes about looking after distinguished passengers. His book 'Ascot Airways: The Life and Times of a Royal Air Force Steward' is available on Amazon and through various other retailers. Click here for Amazon.com or here for Amazon.co.uk.


Classic Gatwick Jetliners book out

History Press, May 2021


Image copyright History Press

Author and ex-Gatwick Air Traffic Controller Tom Singfield has completed the perfect companion to his Classic Gatwick Propliners book: Classic Gatwick Jetliners. It is a full-colour photobook containing over 200 shots of various types that visited the Gatwick apron in the 60s, 70s and 80s. The extensive captions provide a pretty complete overview of the development of the airfield and the background of the various airlines of that era. Obviously, the VC10s of BUA, BCal and some other airlines are included but they are in the minority. Still, I can recommend this as a worthwhile addition to your bookshelf, so that you can enjoy the view of late 20th century liveries and many airlines and types that are long gone now.


Super VC10 crash Addis Ababa remembered

BBC Radio 4, 21 April 2021

The BBC Radio 4 programme 'Life Changing' that aired today includes a conversation with Harriet Ware-Austin, who was eight years old when she witnessed the crash of Super VC10 5X-UVA at Addis Ababa. The aircraft carried her two sisters, who did not survive the accident. A few days ago, it was 49 years ago that the combination of a jacking pad left on the runway and incorrectly assembled brakes caused the loss of this airframe and 43 lives. Click on the link above to listen to or download the programme.

Another account describes how a RAF crew was asked to carry out an extra flight to bring the survivors and their family back home, see here: VC10 Crash. Ethiopia, 1972. This flight was carried out using XR808 and is mentioned in the radio programme.

Harriet has kindly shared parts of her mother's account and her own memories on this page.


Still two intact VC10s at Bruntingthorpe

E-mail, April 2021


The two VC10s are just in front of the wingtip.
Photo P. Stevens

A recent overflight confirmed that there are still two intact VC10s at Bruntingthorpe airfield. The six Tristars and two 747-400s can also be seen. Apart from these airframes under threat, the Walton owned Nimrod, Comet and Victor are safely stored in a corner of the site. It may take a while before more news emerges, so for now we'll have to make do with this status update.



New 1:200 scale JC Wings model coming up

Aviation Megastore, March 2021

Various shops are showing a new JC Wings 1:200 scale model of BOAC Standard VC10 G-ARVM in its interim BOAC/BA colours. There are several photos on the Aviation Megastore site (see link above) and a drawing on the Diecast Trading website and this model has the unique BOAC fuselage with BA 'Negus' tail scheme that 'VM wore in the mid-70s. The model is familiar if you know the previous JC Wings releases in this scale, with only minor changes (no shiny wheels and an additional stand). Based on the photos, JC Wings has got the wing shape right but the outboard fence should extend along the entire wing chord for the type 1101 wing. Still, the JC Wings models are pretty good value for money and in the limited 1:200 scale market, this is a welcome addition to the range. Visit your favourite aviation model retailer for pre-order details and price indications, or follow the links in this post for some suggestions.


The model comes with a stand, the original issues did not include one.
Photo JC Wings via Aviation Megastore

The box is styled to match the model.
Photo JC Wings via Aviation Megastore

The JC Wings mould produces a good looking model.
Photo JC Wings via Aviation Megastore

ZA150 photobombing the Top Gear crew

BBC News, March 2021

It is always good to see ZA150 popping up in the news, even though it's only in the background of a photo. As there are no updates on the plans for this airframe, this photo will have to do for now.


A lovely aeroplane, with a Top Gear presenter blocking the view.
Photo copyright BBC

Legal wrangling over airframes at Bruntingthorpe

The Times, January 2021

An article in The Times for 22nd January 2021 explains that the owners of Bruntingthorpe airfield have gained the right to remove the stored aircraft from the airfield. Although the article lists the VC10s, the contested situation is mostly that of two stored 747s, ex-TransAero (now bankrupt) but now owned by a different company, and six Lockheed Tristars, ex-RAF but now owned by a US-based firm hoping to get a foothold in the air-to-air refuelling business. The owners of the 747s and the Tristars both argued that these aircraft are part of an active project and that they should have access to the aircraft to get them back to airworthy status, and that the runway should be made available to fly them out in due course. The judge ruled that most of these plans were not realistic and that the companies have had enough time to take action, having received notices to remove the aircraft on several occasions.

The situation for the VC10s has not changed, apart from the fact that there appears to be a small window left in which the aircraft should be removed from Bruntingthorpe by its owner. GJD services has already invested heavily in keeping ZD241 intact and alive over the past 7 years and it is unrealistic to expect its owner to come up with the funds needed to take the airframe apart and move it to a new home. The same applies to ZA147, which has been stored since the last VC10 flight, having had its engines and several other parts removed. Based on this, the odds are against these two airframes surviving beyond the next few months, although perhaps cockpits or fuselage sections may be preserved.

The full text of the judgement is here.

The large aircraft owned by David Walton (Nimrod, Comet, Victor) are not affected by this, these will remain stored at the airfield. Smaller types have been moved to a new storage/museum area next to the Lightning Preservation Group's sheds.


Test fuselage being repainted

E-mail, December 2020

The VC10 forward test fuselage at Brooklands Museum is being refurbished and will be returned to an overall white scheme, as worn during testing. These photos were taken a few weeks back, when the weather was a bit more accommodating and the area was not yet under the current restrictions.


No idea about the Air China reference, it will disappear under the new coat of paint.
Photo T. Singfield

The BOAC cheatline was not correct for this fuselage section. It never carried any airline colours.
Photo T. Singfield

Table for sale, based on Vickers trolley

Men's Shed Horsham, December 2020

Tom Singfield got in touch with me about a recent project:

I am a member of the Men's Shed Horsham charity. I have completed an "industrial" coffee table/seat using metal parts from a trolley used by the Vickers Aircraft company at Brooklands in Surrey. The trolley was used in the aircraft factory to carry aircraft parts around the site. Aircraft types built at Brooklands include the Viscount, Vanguard and VC10. The wood was rotten so I have replaced all the wood with mostly "old" wood, stained it and wax polished it. It has the original manufacturer's badge. The Men's Shed Horsham now wants to sell it to raise funds to be split between Men's Shed Horsham and The Friends of Viscount Stephen Piercey, a group that looks after a Vickers Viscount airliner preserved at Brooklands Museum. The table/seat is heavy so would need to be collected although delivery in SE England may be possible. This item is unique and has a nice aviation history. Note the condition of the original trolley in the images. The metal end protectors retain some of the original Vickers-Armstrong pale blue paint that all the trolleys in the factory carried. Asking prince is 300.00.

Send me an e-mail if you're interested and I will forward your details to Tom.


The wood is new, but the metal parts and wheels are original..
Photo T. Singfield

The original manufacturer's badge has been reinstalled on the new wood.
Photo T. Singfield

New 1:200 scale JC Wings model coming up

Aviation Retail Direct, December 2020

Available from January 2021, based on the shops that have it available for pre-order now, will be a new JC Wings 1:200 scale model of a BOAC Standard VC10. I have not seen any model photos yet, not even prototypes, but the various shops have either side view drawings showing G-ARVF in the pre-service 'route proving' colourscheme or a stock photo of G-ARVF in the Golden Speedbird colours. That pretty much confirms the registration and pre-1974 colours, but it would be even better to have a 1963 version with the white-striped tail. Visit your favourite aviation model retailer for pre-order details and price indications, or follow the links in this post for some suggestions.

Update: I have found some photos thanks to Diecast Trading and it is definitively the 1963 'route proving' version, which is a re-issue of an earlier JC Wings model (number JC2198, this new one is JC2376) with only minor changes. Based on the photos, JC Wings has got the wing shape right but the outboard fence should extend along the entire wing chord for the type 1101 wing. Still, the JC Wings models were pretty good value for money and in the limited 1:200 scale market, this is a welcome return for a good looking model.


The model comes with a stand, I don't know if the original issue had one.
Photo JC Wings via Diecast Trading

The JC Wings mould produces a good looking model.
Photo JC Wings via Diecast Trading

The straight wing leading edge was only present on BOAC's Standard VC10s.
Photo JC Wings via Diecast Trading

Article about tanking from ZA149 in Vintage Spirit

John Hannavy, November 2020

In February 2010, photographer John Hannavy went along for a training flight on an RAF C-130J Hercules from RAF Lyneham for a feature about life on the station. The sortie included air-to-air refuelling training during which the crew took on fuel from VC10 K3 ZA149. As the crew practiced plugging in several times, John had an excellent opportunity to take photos of the process from various standpoints on the Hercules flight deck. John has used his photos and experience from that day to create a new illustrated article for the Vintage Spirit magazine, now available in their December 2020 issue.


Flight Craft 20: Vickers VC10 & Super VC10 is available

Pen and Sword books, October 2020


Copyright Pen and Sword

Author Lance Cole has created a new book about the VC10. Published in their Flight Craft series, this title is a 84 page softcover publication containing a well illustrated VC10 history along with a special focus on models. Over 20 pages have been dedicated to a write up about the various kits, metal models and other options to get a miniature VC10, with a lot of photos showing details and variations. Lance has selected a mix of period photos, illustrations and more recent images to showcase the type's story, and a set of 24 specially commisioned colour illustrations show the various schemes and markings that have been used over the years.

This title is now available through Pen and Sword (through the link above) or Amazon as well as other online sources. Stay safe and buy online!

Click here for a review of this book.

To print an erratum, click here to open the PDF.



VC10 K3 ZA150 sold to be used as a tanker again

Aeroplane Monthly, September 2020

Late in August, news emerged that Dunsfold-based VC10 K3 ZA150 had been sold to a US firm with the aim to get it flying again. Aeroplane editor Tony Harmsworth expanded on this in the current edition of the magazine, explaining that the news came from a volunteer newsletter issued by the Brooklands Museum. Apparently, the news should not have emerged when it did, but here are the facts so far:

  • The Brooklands Museum set up a Collections Review Panel in late 2019. This panel concluded that, due to the plans for Dunsfold Airfield and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the VC10, the museum would not be able to secure its future and therefore recommended to sell the airframe.
  • While this would normally have meant that it would have been scrapped, a buyer was found in GJD Services, who have also taken on the two VC10 simulators that had been in storage since their decommisioning in 2013. Bruntingthorpe based ZD241 and the stored K3 ZA147, themselves in an uncertain situation since the venue was sold and fundraising for a move stalled (see below), are rumoured to become part of the deal as well.
  • GJD has purchased the simulators and ZA150 on behalf of Kepler Aerospace, a Midland, TX, based company, for use in connection to their satellite programme.
  • The plan is to ferry the VC10 to St. Athan wheels down, so that in-depth work can be carried out there to get the VC10 back to full working order and transfer to the Texas base.

ZA150 is unique amongst the surviving airframes as it has never been decommissioned. The other K3s and K4s, including the other live airframe ZD241, have had their engines taken out and several services disconnected as part of a decommisioning schedule that was part of the deal when they were sold off by the RAF. When ZA150 was sold to the Brooklands Museum, last minute talks resulted in the aircraft being handed over 'as is', with only a few avionics being taken out. This was possible as the museum had a team of licensed VC10 engineers ready to take on the aircraft, and because of this, they were able to convince the RAF and GJD (who would have carried out the decommissioning tasks) to waive this requirement.

The deal does not leave the Brooklands Museum without a VC10, they still have the Sultan of Oman's A4O-AB, the complete fuselage of G-ARVM and the test fuselage section in their collection.


'Sky Talk' and 'It's Pull To Go Up' available now

Burnt Ash Publishing, July 2020

Two books that should feature stories about the VC10 are now available from Burnt Ash Publishing. 'Sky Talk' is a collection of stories written by Phil Hogge, using events from his long career but with fictional characters. 'It's Pull To Go Up' is the autobiography of Charles Jeffrey 'Jeff' Gray, describing his career from Lancasters to VC10s. It was found amongst his papers after he passed away in 2016. See also Crew Memoirs on the books page and a previous post further down the page.


Article about EAA Super VC10s in Aviation News

Key Publishing, July 2020


Copyright Key Publishing

The August issue of Aviation News is a special about British aircraft types, including articles on the Spitfire, Harrier and Vickers Viscount. Of interest is the article written by Barry Lloyd about East African Airways and her five Super VC10s. The article covers the history of the airline, the origins of the deal that ended up with the ultimate VC10 development operating to and from East Africa, and the unfortunate end of the venture. In the first column, read 'Canadair Argonaut' instead of 'Avro Argonaut' and on the facing page below the middle photo, 5H-MOG obviously first flew from Brooklands to Wisley instead of from Wisley on its first flight. These small issues should not detract from what is an excellent article though.



Fundraising started for move of VC10s from Bruntingthorpe

Facebook group, July 2020

A Facebook group has been set up to raise funds and inform the public about the plans for the two VC10s at Bruntingthorpe. With the announced end of aviation activities at the airfield, the VC10 preservation group has been asked to leave and is investigating options to move the two VC10s. Ideally, one will be kept live. ZD241 would be the obvious candidate for that, having performed taxi runs for the past six years. ZA147 has been stored during this period but could be made live as well. The challenge will be to move the airframes, which necessitates a careful disassembly like what was done for XR808, in such a way that all systems can be made live again. Visit the VC10 Rescue and Relocation Project Facebook group for information and to keep up with the project's progress.

There is a GoFundMe page here. - Update: the fundraising was canceled at the end of August as nowhere near the needed amount was raised. Keep an eye on the Facebook group where news will be posted if available.


VC10 simulators move to St. Athan

SWAM, June 2020

The RAF operated two VC10 simulators, one configured as a C1(K), the other one as a VC10 K tanker. Just before ZA147 operated the type's last flight, the simulators were ceremoniously shut down after a session with some high ranking officers in the seats. The simulators were dismantled and moved into storage, having been aquired by The Brooklands Museum. After several years in storage, they are now on the move again as they have been taken on by the South Wales Aircraft Museum at St. Athan. It is too soon to discuss the specific plans, but no doubt at least one of the two will at some point emerge as a running simulator.


BOAC related stories, two new books from Burnt Ash Publishing

Burnt Ash Publishing, June 2020

After its BOAC book, Burnt Ash Publishing has now announced two new titles with a VC10 connection:

  • Sky Talk vol. 1 - This is a collection of short stories written by Phil Hogge. The stories are semi-fictional with places, aircraft and events that are based on his career in BOAC and British Airways, but using fictional characters or twists. He has contributed several memories to this site, such as this article on flying VC10s in Africa.
  • It's Pull to go Up - Jeff Gray flew Lancasters in WW II and afterwards joined BOAC, flying Yorks, Hermes and Stratocruisers to end up on the VC10. He continued with British Airways until his retirement but then continued flying for Gulf Air, where he acted as senior pilot and instructor on their VC10s and Tristars. After one particular test flight he wrote the article 'Falling Leaves' for Flypast magazine, which acted as the source for the story of G-ARVE's flight test incident. After he passed away in 2016, his son found a complete memoir of his career that the family did not know he had written. This will now be available and is titled 'It's Pull to go Up' after the note Jeff Gray found on the control column in the simulator one day.

Both titles will be released on 28th July 2020 and will be available through the publisher's website (see link above). Burnt Ash has also recently published a book about Britain's Airline Entrepeneurs that includes names like Freddie Laker and Richard Branson. This is now available at a discount from the same website.


Bruntingthorpe closure and uncertainties about based aircraft

Bruntingthorpe Aviation, June 2020

Late in 2019, the Aircraft Museum at Bruntingthorpe airfield closed its doors, without much of an explanation. In March the news emerged that the Walton family had sold its business to Cox Automotive, including the Bruntingthorpe facilities. After a few months of uncertainties, coupled with the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic that in itself was enough to cancel the May 2020 open day, it has become clear that the new owners are not prepared to host a large aeronautical presence at the site and have asked the various groups to vacate by October of this year.

The Buccaneer Aviation Group has launced a crowdfunding site to fund the move of their two jets and spares to Kemble. More concerning though is the fate of the larger types at Bruntingthorpe: Nimrod, Comet, Victor, Canberra and of course the two VC10s, ZA147 and live airframe ZD241. There has been a proposal to move ZA147 to the South Wales Aviation Museum for a while but it is not known how much of the needed funds have been secured by now. Moving a VC10 in sections by road will cost £300,000, based on XR808's move to Cosford in 2015, with the work carried out by GJD Services who are specialists in this field. The VC10 Preservation Group issued a statement today that is shown below. Keep an eye on the ZA147 Facebook page and the VC10 Preservation Group website and social feeds for more about this. It is hoped that a solution can be found that would allow these airframes to excape the scrapman.

As mentioned on the website for the airfield, David Walton is investigating the option to erect buildings next to the 'Q' shed at Bruntingthorpe to house airframes. Perhaps this could act as a safe haven for the evicted airframes, but there are no more details about this at present. With the timeline as it is, swift action is needed and this could not come at a more inconvenient time as the economy is struggling with the consequences from the pandemic and museums around the country are struggling to stay afloat.

VC10 Preservation Group Statement on the current situation at Bruntingthorpe

Like the rest of the aviation community, the VC10 Preservation Group recently learned that Cox Automotive UK Limited was to take over the site at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground near Leicester.

Since then, the VC10 Preservation Group has been trying to establish the future scope of the site and - more importantly - whether there will be any future involvement with aviation. Sadly, at this time it is our considered opinion that there will be none.

Currently, the VC10 Preservation Group is the custodian of former RAF and British Airways VC10 K.4 ZD241 (G-ASGM) and sadly, we feel that the VC10s fate is now distinctly uncertain. We hope a solution can be reached between the aircraft owners and the new owners of the site at Bruntingthorpe; or perhaps with a possible future move for the aircraft.

While we are aware of these confidential discussions taking place, the VC10 Preservation Group is not party to them and as a consequence, are unable to make any comment on them.

Until such times as we may have further information, no further statement will be made by the VC10 Preservation Group or anyone purporting to be acting for us.

In the meantime, we wish to thank everyone who has supported us during the last five years from our initial running of ZD241 right up to the formation of the charity - permitting us to allow our supporters to join us on the aircraft on the unique taxi runs that occurred at Bruntingthorpe.

Bruntingthorpe, 15 June 2020.


XV104 engine pod to caravan conversion on Channel 4, July 1st

Channel 4 website, June 2020


Steve took this photo when he mounted the pod to the chassis, catch the show to see the end result.
Photo S. Jones

Season 9 episode 3 of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces will feature Steve Jones’ incredible VC10 engine pod to caravan conversion. It will air on Channel 4 on Wednesday 1st July at 21:00. The project started out with the engine nacelle from XV104, which has been halved (only the outboard half has been used) and mounted on a trailer with the inside converted into a mobile home. Steve has posted some teaser photos on Facebook, but we'll have to wait for the episode to air to get the whole story. Footage of ZD241 at Bruntingthorpe may well be included in the show.


Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Beavis, KCB, CBE, AFC passes away

10 Squadron Association, June 2020

From the 10 Squadron Association website: "It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of ‘Mike' Beavis who, when in wing commander rank, was the first OC10 of the long VC10 era in the Squadron’s history.

Sir Michael aged 90, passed away peacefully at his home in Pissouri, Cyprus on 7 June 2020 and his funeral was held in Pissouri Village, on 15 June. Donations given in his honour and remembrance should be sent to the RAF Benevolent Fund."

In 2017 he contributed his recollections to the Associations collection of biographies of former OC10s, a PDF of which can be found through the link above.


RAF Voyager beats 1987 VC10 records

AirTanker website, June 2020

On 2 and 5 June 2020, a RAF Voyager set two new records, flying non-stop from RAF Brize Norton to Mount Pleasant Airfield in 15 hours and 9 minutes. It returned after three days, clocking up 13 hours and 22 minutes on the return leg. Not only are these times better than those set by XR806 in 1987, the modified A330 was also able to carry out this feat without the use of air-to-air refuelling. See here for the details on the AirTanker website.


New print available from Ben Elton painting 'Passing the Torch'

Facebook, June 2020

Avation artist Ben Elton painted 'Passing the Torch' at the end of 2019 as a commission from Ollie Pallet. With the blessing of Ollie's family, Ben will now be selling 101 signed prints at £37.50 each, with proceeds going to the RAF Benevolent fund. Have a look at his Facebook post for more details (see link above).


VC10 at 50 event available on video

Andy's Video, June 2020

On 29th June 2012 a lot of VC10 fans gathered at The Brooklands Museum for an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of G-ARTA's first flight. The event was captured on video and Andy Lambert has now been able to make this available online. Visit his channel (link above) or go to the page about the VC10 at 50 event on this site to find this three hour video. It includes talks and contributions from designers, crew, maintenance personnel and gathers some great anecdotes and recollections about the type. Since the event we have sadly had to say goodbye to Alistair Pugh, Roy Radford and Christopher Orlebar, so it is good to be able to see and hear them on this video, talking about their memories of the VC10.


BOAC and VC10 inspired stories due out soon

Burnt Ash Publishing, April 2020

Ex-VC10 Captain Philip Hogge has been writing short stories for a while now, but Burnt Ash Publishing has now decided to publish them in book form. Philip's stories are fictional, but based on his own experiences during his time flying VC10s, 747s and other types for BOAC and British Airways. He has contributed several memories to this site, such as this article on flying VC10s in Africa. Through the use of fictional characters, his stories transport you back to the golden age of airline flying and the particular ambiance of those days, without breaking the trust of those colleagues who shared their experiences in the bar at the end of a long day. 'Sky Talk' is shown on the publisher's website to be volume one, so we can expect a follow up volume two at some point in the future as well. See the link above for more about the book, it is due out within the next couple of months.


Polished Conway Compressor Blades

Avro Designs, April 2020

The company Avro Designs upcycles aircraft parts, changing them into small, or larger, pieces of art that fit into many interiors while keeping a bit of aviation history intact. They already sell various items created from different engine parts, but they have now added a limited run of Rolls-Royce Conway compressor blades to their store.

These compressor blades have been polished and mounted on a 3D printed base, from which the blade can be removed if you would want to. The blade foot has a large hole in it that originally fixed these blades to the compressor discs, but which now also allows use as a keyring or baggage tag. Overall they measure 140 mm tall including the base, which is available in two colours. Click here to see more images of these blades (or to order one).


Battle honours awarded to both 10 and 101 Squadron

Royal Air Force, March 2020

The Ministry of Defence announced that Her Majesty The Queen has awarded battle honours to several RAF squadrons, including no. 10 Squadron and no. 101 Squadron, for their service during operations in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014. During these years, the VC10 initially formed the backbone of both squadrons, which merged into a single 101 Squadron in 2005, until the type's retirement in September 2013. No. 10 Squadron reformed with the Voyager tanker in 2012, taking over the Afghanistan tasking at that point. VC10 operations in support of the Afghanistan conflict initially started under OP VERITAS, with refuelling tasks supporting US Navy aircraft. From 2002 on the British operation in the War in Afghanistan was designated as OP HERRICK, and both refuelling tasks and transport operations continued throughout the operation.


Ollie Pallett 1982 - 2020

VC10 Preservation Group, February 2020

Long-time member of the A-team at Bruntingthorpe Oliver 'Ollie' Pallett passed away last week aged just 38. Ollie was instrumental in getting ZD241 back to a live aircraft and continued to look after the VC10. His passing was announced on the team's Twitter feed (see link above).


Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said passed away aged 79

BBC News, January 2020


Photo via R. King

Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman passed away aged 79. It was his generosity and his appreciation of the years of using VC10 A4O-AB as his private aircraft that led to it being donated to The Brooklands Museum in 1987, where it made its final landing. Sultan Qaboos, who ruled Oman since a bloodless coup in 1970, was the longest serving ruler in the Arab world and he managed to keep Oman neutral in relation to the various other countries and their conflicts. His government was a modern one, especially when compared to his father's conservative choices, but he was also an absolute monarch and dissenting voices were often silenced.

The VC10 was purchased just four years after Sultan Qaboos came to power, and the Sultan's royal flight was always an impressive lineup of converted airliners, business jets and helicopters. See here for more about this fleet: Transport - Sultan style.


Arthur Ricketts 1938 - 2019

E-mail, December 2019


Photo J. Hieminga

Photo M. Ricketts

I just received the news that Arthur Ricketts, ex-EAA VC10 captain, passed away on 5th December 2019, aged 81. I met Arthur at Bruntingthorpe in 2013 while we were waiting for ZA147 to arrive after its final flight, and when he heard that it was ex-5H-MMT that we were waiting for, he quipped 'it will never get here!' as this airframe was known to be a troublemaker during its EAA career. Arthur captained most of the flights that brought the four ex-EAA Super VC10s back to the UK after the airline folded and he then carried out training flights on one of them to renew VC10 type ratings for some of the BAe test pilots, including Brian Trubshaw, for the upcoming K2 and K3 test programme. He stayed with BAe as a transport and training captain and he was the co-pilot of a BAe 125-800 that was hit by a missile from an Angolan Air Force MiG-23 in 1988. He got the aircraft under control and landed at a nearby airstrip with one engine completely missing. This feat earned him the Diploma of Outstanding Airmanship, awarded to him in 1989 by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.

Arthur continued to fly light aircraft in the UK during his retirement, and often traveled to Lake Como, Italy, for the seaplane flying there. The Super VC10 would continue to be his favourite type though.



Seasonal greetings

December 2019

I found this Christmas card a while ago, and although you could argue that the image could have captured the lines of the VC10 a bit better, I still think it makes for a suitable card. A very merry Christmas and all the best for 2020!


New 1/72 scale VC10 model coming up

Hobbysearch website, November 2019

Thanks to a post on PPRuNe and a Japanese website we've got a heads-up about a new 1/72 scale VC10 model from French manufacturer Mach2. The release date appears to be somewhere in January 2020 and according to the website, we'll be seeing a BOAC liveried version, as well as two VC10 K2 kits in both camouflage and the grey low-viz scheme.

Ryan Wheatstone sent me two photos that he took at the Scale ModelWorld show at Telford, showing a BOAC Standard VC10 and the camo ('Lizard') K2 version. All three versions are available to pre-order from Hannants, see:

GP106 - VC10 K2 Camouflaged

GP107 - VC10 K2 Low viz grey

GP108 - Standard VC10 BOAC


The BOAC Standard version of the Mach2 1/72 scale kit.
Photo R. Wheatstone

And the camouflaged VC10 K2 version.
Photo R. Wheatstone

'BOAC and the Golden Age of Flying' from Burnt Ash Publishing

Burnt Ash Publishing, October 2019

A new book about BOAC has just been released by Burnt Ash Publishing. Author Malcolm Turner has chosen the airline for which his father flew Britannias and VC10s, and which employed several other family members, as the subject for this hardback, coffee-table book that aims to celebrate an era in which air travel was so very different from what it is today. The book actually grew out of a Facebook group (see here) about BOAC, which showed that even after forty-five years, the spirit of having worked for BOAC, or the feeling of having flown on one of their aircraft, has not disappeared. This book does not aim to cover the entire history of the company but instead conveys the feeling of that special time when air travel itself was the subject of feature films, when the sight of a dark-blue Speedbird emblazoned tail would strengthen homesickness, when stepping aboard a VC10 would trigger that 'almost home' feeling.

Click here to read more about this book and order from the publisher.

Click here to see more about this book on Amazon.co.uk.


ZA150 open day at Dunsfold Aerodrome

Brooklands Museum, September 2019

The next open day at Dunsfold aerodrome for resident VC10 ZA150 will take place on 12th October. Tickets must be booked prior to the day for either the morning or afternoon session and the number of tickets is limited. Visitors will be able to view the aircraft close up, including inside, and ZA150 will perform a taxi run. As an added bonus, the museum's Napier Railton race car, which still holds the speed record on the Brooklands circuit, will run on the runway providing the sounds and smells of a 24 litre aero-engined car. See the website through the link above for more information and to buy tickets.


XV108 repaint nears completion

XV108 Facebook group, September 2019


Photo P. Stephens

This summer, the group looking after XV108's forward fuselage reached a long-awaited milestone on their restoration agenda. Since being installed at the East Midlands Aeropark in November 2013 XV108's forward fuselage had carried the grey colours in which the type finished its service life, but a plan to change this had been around for a while. The fuselage section is closed off by a custom made 'plug', which was showing signs of being affected by the local climate, necessitating repairs. These were completed earlier this year after several months of work and a helpful donation of aluminium sheets from a local company. With this done, the fuselage section was cleaned and prepared for a spell of painting that started in June and has just now been completed. The end result is the familiar 10 Squadron colourscheme that adorned the 10 Squadron VC10s until the mid to late 90s. For XV108, the change to the grey scheme came in October 1996, which means that it currently represents the configuration and colours that it carried between August 1995, when it first flew as a C1K, and October 1996. The last thing to add is the scroll commemorating William Rhodes-Morehouse VC and a Union Jack decal, which will be done during the next couple of weeks. To see more photos of the painting process and the end result, visit the group's Facebook group (see link above).


August taxi run round-up

Bruntingthorpe & Dunsfold, August 2019

Now that August has come and gone, this year's scheduled taxi runs have taken place and we will have to await 2020 for some more VC10 noise (barring any unplanned events that I'm not aware of). This season saw the Wings & Wheels show at Dunsfold moved to June, but this may also have been the last time this show will take place as the organisation has announced that the curtain will fall after 15 years of air shows at Dunsfold. Due to scheduling issues, resident VC10 K3 ZA150 was not able to taxi during the show but the Brooklands Museum-owned tanker should continue to star in special VC10 events at Dunsfold.

Bruntingthorpe's Cold War Jets event took place as scheduled on 25th August and included a taxi run by based VC10 K4 ZD241. The group that looks after the jet is able to sell seats on the aircraft for these runs and this continues to be a popular experience. The open days at Bruntingthorpe should continue in 2020, but developing business at the site has caused the event to be moved to the opposite end of the airfield and hopefully it won't restrict the possibilities any further.

25th September 2019 will mark the sixth anniversary of the closure of the VC10's flying career and with two VC10s still in taxiing trim and plans for ZA147 to move to St. Athan, there should be enough opportunity to see and hear a VC10 in the future. The question is whether future developments at Bruntingthorpe and Dunsfold will allow this to continue, but my crystal ball is as cloudy as anyone's on that issue. It would be best to support ZA147's plans in the meantime.

Airshow UK produced this 40 min video, which includes some great VC10 footage


New VC10 T-shirt design available

Jetstream Design, August 2019

If you want to show people you're enthusiastic about good-looking aircraft, consider getting a T-shirt from Jetstream Design with the VC10 silhouette in a multi-coloured design. Available on grey or white shirts, it mirrors similar designs based on the DC-3 and Concorde. The same designer also has some great city skyline designs available, see the link above for more information.


Radio interview about the VC10

BBC Sounds, June 2019

To commemorate the 57th anniversary of G-ARTA's first flight, BBC Surrey's James Cannon spoke with Brooklands Museum's Julian Temple and ex-VC10 pilot Ted Felstead. The interview can be found approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes into his three hour show, available through the link above.


Account of an ex-VC10 pilot's career

Calvinshields.com, May 2019

After a long career flying VC10's and 747s for BOAC and BA, airline pilot Calvin Shields decided to share his experiences from the 'pointy end' and he wrote a lighthearted account based on his life. The semi-fictional 'Dancing the skies and falling with style' uses his experiences to tell the story of 'Colin Fairdale', from his early days in various outposts of the British Empire, to pilot training at Hamble, training in the VC10 and many, many strange and different occurrences at airports and hotels around the world. Along the way, the author shares many humourous anecdotes, with a significant part of the book covering the seven years he flew, and enjoyed, the VC10. You'll also get some glimpses into the personal life of an airline pilot and a personal view of the changes that shaped the post 9/11 airline world.

'Dancing the skies and falling with style' is available from Amazon.co.uk. See the link above for more details and some excerpts.


Final BAC 1-11 flight

WorldAirlineNews, May 2019

The last BAC 1-11 to fly touched down at Baltimore/Washington on 6th May 2019. N164W, a BAC 1-11 401AK, was originally delivered to American Airlines as N5044, later serving with Dan-Air as G-AXCK. It moved back to the US in 1996 and was converted into an avionics and electronics test-bed for Westinghouse (later Northrop Grumman), including a special nose to fit development radar sets. The aircraft remained in service with Northrop Grumman together with stablemate N162W, which was retired in 2018. After a low fly-by, the BAC 1-11 touched down, ending a 56 year career for the type. The eventual fate of the airframe is unknown.


Gin Flight Masterclass on board XR808

RAF Museum website, April 2019

The Cosford Food Festival will take place on 20 and 21 July 2019. A line-up of local producers will be at the food market, serving up tasty food and providing various cooking demonstrations. The backdrop for the stalls will be the resident Hercules and VC10 C1K XR808. A new experience will be the Gin Flight Masterclass on board the VC10. During a 45 minute session you will learn about gin and have a gin tasting on board the aircraft. In a way, you will be reliving a bit of the famous VC10 on board service.


Just Flight VC10 Professional released

Just Flight website, April 2019

After the previous release of a Standard VC10 model for Flight Simulator in November 2017, Just Flight have now released the 'Professional' version. This expanded edition includes additional models for the C1K and Super VC10, including the K3 and K4 conversions, as well as the type 1101 variant. The Professional title relates to the more realistic systems that have been custom coded, including a period INS system. See the Just Flight website (see link above) for more details and pricing


Article about 101 Squadron's operations

Visual Approach Images, February 2019

Matt Birch's Visual Approach Images site now includes a story and a photographic overview of his involvement with the VC10. He has been taking great photographs for many years, and fortunately for us, he was able to get a close up view of 101 Squadron's operations during several trips between 2007 and 2009. Thanks to a civilian ATC liaison programme Matt was able to fly on his favourite airliner of all time, and take some great photos of the military air-to-air refuelling operations that the VC10 provided. He was also present for the last two VC10 landings, ZA150 at Dunsfold and ZA147 at Bruntingthorpe in September 2013. Click here for his story and some great photos.


New books about BOAC and Freddie Laker

January 2019

Although not completely about the VC10, you could consider having a look at these two titles:

The British Overseas Airways Corporation: A History by Graham M. Simons is a new title from Pen and Sword publishing and covers the entire story of BOAC's war years, growth throughout the post-war decades, until the merger with BEA that led to British Airways. This book covers both the political angles and the different operational issues that troubled the airline. It is lavishly illustrated with many period photos and images from BOAC promotional material and contains a very readable account of the airline's career. The author has extensively researched BOAC's history and the book is packed with facts and details in its 313 pages. Look no further if you want a complete overview of BOAC's glory years. Click here to view more details on Amazon.co.uk.

LAKER: The Glory Years of Sir Freddie Laker by Ania Grzesik and Gregory Dix has been published recently by Recursive Publishing and is a very complete account of Sir Freddie Laker's life and business dealings. It is available from the publisher or The Aviation Bookshop, I haven't been able to find it through any of the regular online bookdealers yet. You'll get a hefty tome containing almost 600 pages, three galleries with a lot of images, and a new look at the pioneer of the low-cost North Atlantic service model. Co-author Greg Dix has been with Sir Freddie for more than 20 years throughout the tumultuous period that culminated in the demise of Laker Airways. Together with Ania Grzesik he provides a new look at this inspirational businessman. Click here for more details on the publisher's website.


Cockpits of XV104 and XV109 move to Wales

ZA147 Facebook, January 2019

On 26th January the cockpits of XV109 and XV104 were transported from Bruntingthorpe to St. Athan, where they will become part of the South Wales Aviation Museum. XV109 is a complete nose section while XV104 is somewhat smaller, having been cut off just below the flight deck floor. XV104's flight deck will be used as a travelling exhibit this next Summer, travelling to RIAT and other airshows to raise funds for moving ZA147 to St. Athan.


News items from previous years can be found on the pages below:

News Archive - 2017/2018
News Archive - 2015/2016
News Archive - 2013/2014
News Archive - 2011/2012
News Archive - 2009/2010
News Archive - 2007/2008
News Archive - 2005/2006
News Archive - 2003/2004
News Archive - 2001/2002

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