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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.


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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