RAMP RAMBLINGS……….By Keith Bradshaw, photo’s Steve Jeal.

Welcome to Ramp Ramblings number 5, I thought we would start this one off with a “Plane Fact”.

Anyone interested in aviation will know the world’s first Jet airliner was the De Havilland Comet. But they may not know it was also a Comet that flew the first Jet airliner flight over the Atlantic. In October 1958 Comet 4 G-APDB took off from New York to operate the first ever West to East crossing, landing at London Airport 6 hours 11 minutes later. Halfway across it passed its sister ship flying in the opposite direction, these were the only two Jet airliners over the Atlantic on that day. Fast forward 58 years and there are now 2500-3000 crossings each day. It’s a “Plane fact”, not only do we have a Comet in our collection, but we have that very Comet, the first to cross from New York to London G-APDB. Come and see it for yourself.

Comet web

Comet with the DAS’s Dove above.

So what’s happened lately around the collection? Well following on from the Viscounts film role in the Netflix documentary “The Crown”, a number of other aeroplanes became film stars when they were used in a photo shoot by the fashion house Ted Baker. To help the camera man with access Keith, Paul and Norman removed several seats from the Trident and VC10 cockpits. Easy to say not so easy to do! After many years of inactivity some of the seats were stuck on their rails and it took best part of a day to remove them, nothing is straight forward on these old aeroplanes. While they were out another photo shoot was undertaken on the VC10 by a guy from Haynes Manuals who was taking photos for a forthcoming VC10 owners handbook. On both the Trident and the VC10, with the seats out, it was apparent the floor covering was in poor condition. So we have since removed the remaining cockpit seats to enable new floor covering to be put down and the seats be refurbished.

VC10 cockpit web

VC10 Cockpit.

Whilst we were tinkering with the seats on the Trident, the opportunity was also taken to get some lights in the forward galley working. We have also commenced making dummy galley units to replace the silver blanks that are fitted at the moment, this will make the galleys look more like the real thing. With the floor covering up in the door area it was apparent the floor itself had suffered over the years with all the visitors walking over it, so a new section is being made up to replace the damaged part.


Trident with B52 in background. Photo taken from scaffolding around the VC10 while the upper surface was painted.

The BAC 1-11 has finally been reunited with its main undercarriage doors, thanks to sterling work by Derek and some of the Wednesday guys, these took a lot longer to restore than was originally thought due to the extent of the corrosion, but they are now looking very good. Just the crazed windows to replace during the summer and the 1-11 will look as good as new.

In the workshops the reskinning of the Britannia elevators is coming on well and they have now been stripped back to bare metal and the repainting has begun. Once the elevators are finished and space is available the aileron will take its turn on the bench. Chris meanwhile is refurbishing, and in some cases re-making, a number of the aileron access panels. John, from the Monday group has made from scratch a bulkhead door that fits in the galley. He has done a superb job and the result looks like a component that has just been issued from Bristol’s Filton stores years ago!

We know it is always disappointing to visitors who come to Duxford and find only Concorde open for viewing. This has always been due to a shortage of volunteer stewards, however we are now taking a different approach to the problem and hope to have the Comet, York, Hermes and Concorde open on a daily basis from April. These will be free to enter but as always we would be grateful for anything put into the donation boxes on the aeroplanes, as keeping them open and looking good costs a great deal. And looking good is what our annual spring clean is all about. The four planes in the hangar get dusted and polished, all by hand, to make them clean and gleaming for the next season. As you can imagine that is not as easy as doing the same to your car! Large amounts of scaffolding have to be carried into the hangar and erected around the wings to allow people to clean them safely. Then we can climb aboard and start cleaning.

Cleaning aircraft web

DAS volunteers hard at work cleaning the wing of the Comet.

New member Dave took things to new heights when he was seen hoovering the wing of Concorde! and thanks to an ingenious ladder made by Brian we can now reach the top of the fuselage as well. The complete job on the four planes takes about two weeks. The aeroplanes outside will also receive a wash and brush up once the weather improves and our new wash trailer is kitted out with its water tank and pump. The old van we previously used was condemned as it smoked so much it was like a battleship laying a smoke screen!

Not one of our aeroplanes, but our people. Boeing B17 “Sally B” has benefited from help from our top painting duo Sean and Marketa. They have been painting the inside of the rear fuselage over the winter whilst Sally was in the hangar for her annual maintenance.

Sally B web

Sally B flying over Duxford.

So come the air show season she will look spick and span both inside and out. If you are thinking about coming to the first Duxford air show in May, when all our airliners will be open for inspection, please note entry is by advance ticket only there will be no tickets for sale on the day. Check the IWM website for details.

A bit of info that may be of interest to those of you who used to enjoy reading the now defunct Propliner magazine. They editors are planning a one off edition to cover the last twelve months of Propliner news. Copies can be ordered direct from their website at Whilst on the subject of the written word DAS operates a second hand bookshop for all aviation related subjects. If you are after a specific book, range of books or have some you would like to donate please contact “John The Book” on

As an active member of DAS you could be involved with these iconic aeroplanes and be eligible for some of the perks the job brings. DAS volunteers can elect to work any day Sunday to Thursday. Want to know more about volunteering at Duxford? Then email the IWM Volunteers manager, Vicki Williams on for details on how to become a DAS volunteer.