RAMP RAMBLINGS………..By Keith Bradshaw. All photos by the author and Steve Jeal unless noted.
Welcome to Ramp Ramblings 13. After the recent Trislander special and an anniversary Ambassador restoration special coming up, there is just time for a quick update on what we have been up to here at Duxford.
Well as you have hopefully previously read, the big news was the addition to the British Airliner Collection of the Britten-Norman Trislander which was kindly donated to us by Aurigny Airlines from the Channel Islands. The full story can still be found here on the website if you missed it.
Trislander arriving out of the haze.
The Trislander has now been moved into AirSpace where it will remain until after the Flying Legends Airshow.
Those of you who have visited us will know all the outside aircraft are powered by cables from distribution boxes alongside the hard standing. Well over time these cables start to age from the sunlight and from people and vehicles crossing them. So, one of our electricians, Alan, has been replacing them all with fresh cable. This job is now finished so we are now electrically set for some time to come!
As mentioned in an earlier Ramblings the false work on the wing to fuselage join of the Herald was in bad shape. Paul and others have been working on this but it’s a long job. Also on the Herald there was an issue with the white paint on the top of the fuselage flaking off. We think this is the result of a reaction between the paint and the stripper that was used a couple of years ago. Whatever, a large amount of work has gone into rubbing the affected paint down and replacing it with fresh. Thanks go to Steve, Vic, Cedric, Mark, Marketa and several others for a quick job so the Herald looked presentable at the May airshow. Like the falsework this an ongoing task which will take some time to complete.
The VC10 has been receiving some attention with the main undercarriage doors being replaced with some freshly painted spares we had “in stock”. Wednesday guy Todd has done most of the painting with colleagues Derek and Ray making up some new access panels as well.
The Wednesday guys have been rather busy at late with the small electric baggage truck finally being finished by them and now placed alongside the BAC1-11 with the corresponding British Airways baggage trollies.
Another one of our airliners, the Trident, celebrated on June 13th the 35th anniversary of its arrival here at Duxford. This example remains the only Trident 2 on public display and had a very interesting life including getting caught up in the Turkish invasion of Cyprus back in the 1970’s.
Elsewhere the rest of the volunteers have been involved in some way or another on the continuing revamp of Concorde. Les the welder has made up a new bottom step to make access easier on the entry steps. Chrissie and her team have finally got the new external display panels erected alongside the entry point. These do a great job of telling our Concorde’s story and are well worth a read as you wait to board the aircraft.
Also on board the aeroplane new signage has been produced to better explain the exhibits. One of the new things we are having on Concorde is a CCTV system for the steward, the cabinet for this and all the data cabling have been down to a group including, Ian, Brian, Mike, Norman, David and others. Our Spanish members Joan and Jose have not been left out of this Concorde-fest with Joan painting all the wooden floor panels in the aircraft and Jose making from scratch fibreglass mouldings which covered some electrical panels on the hat racks.
As our aircraft was used purely for testing a large number of computers and test gear were housed in cupboards in the cabin known as Zonal Units. We are building eight of these four with plain metal fronts and four with Perspex fronts so you can see reproductions of the units that were fitted inside. These Zonal units are taking much longer than thought to make but we are nearly there with the metal fronted ones placed temporarily in position on board. Some of those involved are Keith, David Norman, Ian, Norman, Todd, Joan, Richard, Paul, Dave and Chris. We have found some of the original computer reel to reel tapes so maybe after these units are finished we may make another to house a tape recorder, watch this space!
Finally, on this quick update Keith has continued his galley making business and produced a low relief front galley for the Comet. This had to be kept very narrow as the galley area is used as the exit point for visitors and the new galley was not to intrude on this space for H&S reasons. With the new unit in place there is still plenty of room for visitors to exit and the galley looks much better than a blank bulkhead wall.
This month’s look back at a gone but not forgotten airline is Laker Airlines, who really began the low-cost fare era in the UK. This is their story.
Photo credit: Eduard Marmet
Formed by Sir Freddie Laker in 1966 the airline initially operated the Britannia on charter flights including inclusive tour holidays. BAC 1-11s arrived, and to ensure good load factors Laker offered the holiday firms a 30% discount on winter bookings. In 1971 two Boeing 707s were acquired with the intent of offering London to New York flights for £32-50 one way, but this was not approved by the authorities. Thus, started a continual battle between Laker and the CAA for reduced fares. In 1972 the first of an eventual fleet of eleven Douglas DC10s arrived, but it was five years later in 1977 until eventual permission to operate the first low fare Skytrain service was given. To expand the service A300 Airbus aircraft joined the fleet but it was to no avail as costs caught up with Laker who folded in 1982 owing £270 million.
Sir Freddie was well liked by the public and his staff for his down to earth approach to his airline. The following anecdote was told to me by an old work colleague who used to work for him. At Gatwick, Laker’s main base, they had a hangar across the airfield from the terminal area. The way the engineers worked was each morning a group would drive over from the hangar to the terminal and spend the day there servicing Laker’s departures. Well the story goes that whilst Sir Freddie was visiting the hangar the guys at the terminal called for assistance from the hangar engineers, however the only van available to them was already at the terminal. When Sir Freddie heard this, he threw his car keys on the table and said, “take the car its outside”. Well this must have been the only occasion ever that a group of engineers turned up at a sick aeroplane driving a Rolls- Royce!!
So that’s it for this quick round up, coming soon is the Flying Legends airshow where as usual all the large airliners will be open for viewing and you can also see our new baby the Trislander.
Don’t forget to look out for the Ramp Ramblings Ambassador special which should be available sometime towards the end of July. See you next time, Keith.