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.
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:
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.
'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
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.
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.
Burnt Ash Publishing, June 2020
After its BOAC book, Burnt Ash Publishing has now announced two new titles with a VC10 connection:
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.
XV104 engine pod to caravan conversion on Channel 4, July 1st
Channel 4 website, June 2020
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
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
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.
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:
'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.
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
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
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
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 Archive - 2017/2018