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Established 2005
Vickers Viscount Network
A Virtual Museum dedicated to the Vickers-Armstrongs VC2 Viscount

Vickers Viscount Network

August 2008 Newsletter




Dear Member


WELCOME to the August edition of the Vickers Viscount Network newsletter. Judging by the number of replies we have had concerning the July newsletter, all positive we might add, the newsletter is proving to be a success. Thank you readers for that feed back. As if the global success of the Viscount needs proving, we have had replies from enthusiasts all over the world recalling stories from the past. You can read a few of the stories below.


BREAKING NEWS - Viscount c/n 35 F-BGNR


Viscount 35 Association

Midland Air Museum Viscount c/n 35 F-BGNR. Midland Air Museum Viscount
c/n 35 F-BGNR.

The Vickers Viscount Network has been advised by Martin Garrett that due to family commitments he has now transferred ownership of F-BGNR, sited at Coventry, England, to the Midland Air Museum. Martin will no longer be involved in its restoration, but does not rule out a further venture involving something a little smaller and more manageable.

The Viscount 35 Association website has now been closed down and Martin wishes to thank everyone for their support in helping him save 'Victoria Lynne' for the benefit of future generations.

I am sure that all of us wish Martin well for the future and thank him for playing his part in helping to ensure that one more airframe survives for countless others to enjoy.


AN EXTRAORDINARY FIND


Ferrymead Aeronautical Society c/n 283 ZK-BRF. Ferrymead Aeronautical Society
c/n 283 ZK-BRF.

Denys Jones while working on the restoration of New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NAC) Viscount c/n 283 ZK-BRF in Christchurch, New Zealand made an extraordinary find recently when venturing below the cabin floor.

He was intrigued by the different colour shades of components applied by NAC engineering staff over the years but he was amazed to find half of the front page of a newspaper propped up in one corner. It was dated 3 July 1963 and covered the saddest day in NAC's history when it lost Douglas DC-3 ZK-AYZ in the Kaimai Range with the loss of all 23 on board that morning.

New Zealand National Airways Corporation DC-3 ZK-AYZ. New Zealand National Airways
Corporation DC-3 ZK-AYZ.

One ponders as to when that paper found its way into the depths of the Viscount, which remained in service for over eleven years after the accident occurred. Who knows, it may be the world's most travelled individual piece of paper!

Referring to the DC-3 accident - this remains the worst ever aviation accident to occur on New Zealand soil. An excellent account of this accident has been written, 'Kaimai Crash' by aviation historian, the Reverend Richard Waugh. Newsletter Editor Peter Layne contributed parts of this book including the DC-3's history and also compiled the index. Visit www.nzairlineresearch.co.nz for more details on the book.

To follow the progress of the restoration of Viscount c/n 283 ZK-BRF on our site go to [News] [Viscount Restoration News] [ZK-BRF c/n 283].


HELP REQUIRED


Can you identify this Viscount? Can you identify this Viscount?

Are you a problem solver? Would you like to test your skills at research? Then look no further than our 'Mystery' Page. From time to time we receive photos of aircraft that we cannot identify. These important images often point to a missing part of Viscount histories and need to be solved.

The current page has a new mystery and questions and answers from earlier mysteries.

Aad van der Voet has asked if we can identify this Viscount? The two photos by Bill Blanchard, were taken on the 1st October 1995 during the 'Plein Vol' exhibition at the Marché Bonsecours market building in Montréal, Canada. Understood to be an ex Air Canada aircraft the second photo shows a small Air Canada logo on the rudder. Can you help?

In the meantime; the response to our request to identify the Viscount at Harare, Zimbabwe brought in correspondence from Peter Upton, Rob Rickards, Tony Ward, Tony Rickelton and Brian Burrage. Thanks Guys!

Air Zimbabwe Viscount c/n 241 Z-WJI. Air Zimbabwe Viscount
c/n 241 Z-WJI.

What is important to note here is that what may be new or unsolved information for one person may be common knowledge for someone else. From this, one can gauge the importance of sharing information (and photographs) whether it is to gain or to provide. Bear all this in mind when reading 'Spreading the word' later in this newsletter.

To help us identify these mystery Viscounts and to see posible solutions sent in by members, on our site go to [Listings] [Help us Identify these Viscounts].


MEMBERS' CORNER - SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE


JACK STEPHENS, from Canada, an early Vickers Viscount Network member and stalwart, recently contributed by sharing with us his account of his Viscount years with TCA - Trans-Canada Air Lines.


MY VISCOUNT YEARS 1954 - 1962 JACK STEPHENS


INTRODUCTION

CF-TGT c/n 57 in the Winnipeg maintenance hangar. CF-TGT c/n 57 in the
Winnipeg maintenance hangar.

On 26 November 2006 I was asked by Brian Burrage and Geoff Blampied, historian and webmaster of the Vickers Viscount Network Virtual Museum in the United Kingdom, to be their Canadian researcher. As with the other researchers, I have been gathering photos and history, forwarding them to the web site.

Brian and Geoff both agree that the history of this great aircraft is more than images, dates and facts. There are also the personal testimonies of countless men and women. From air crews, ramp personnel, maintenance and ticket agents, all have a story to tell.

Many have passed on with their stories, while others are not able or see the need to write. Their stories will be lost forever. Prone to being rather sentimental is part of my motivation to recount those years. It is also the fond memories of my father, Bart Stephens, Air Engineer, Douglas DC-3, DC-4 and Vickers Viscount, that moves me. He was a founding member of the present Western Canada Aviation Museum in the old No. 1 hangar where the Viscounts were overhauled and repaired.

Canadian DoT Viscount c/n 229 CF-DTA. Canadian DoT Viscount
c/n 229 CF-DTA.

Mixed in are the memories of my younger brother Garry Stephens, aircraft mechanic Line Maintenance. The three of us worked at the Trans-Canada Air Lines Winnipeg Overhaul and Maintenance Base where the 51 Viscounts were repaired and overhauled. This included the Department of Transport, Royal Bank of Canada, and many private American aircraft. The guys that I worked with were for the most part, proud of their craft. To them, the Vickers Viscount was like having a new car and doing everything to keep her in top notch condition. The Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, off the North Star (DC-4), were overhauled at the Base and the mechanical engine accessories by the men I worked with. When the Viscounts arrived one by one they already knew the high quality and dependability of Rolls-Royce. They expected no less from the Dart engine and they were not disappointed.

Western Canada Aviation Museum Viscount c/n 279 CF-THS. Western Canada Aviation Museum
Viscount c/n 279 CF-THS.

As a Canadian, I count it a privilege to have been part of the Trans-Canada Air Lines/ Air Canada Maintenance and Overhaul Base. In June 1985, 23 years after I left the company, I returned to the Base, now the Western Canada Aviation Museum. That day, with my wife and my mother, we toured the museum. There was CF-THS looking like she was just overhauled and painted. As we were leaving the hangar, I asked my family to wait for me. Quickly going into the annex, I climbed those ever familiar stairs to the former accessory shop. It was like entering a time machine. 'My bench was right about here', I thought to myself, 'and Gord sat there and Graham over there'. The test room was now filled with aircraft parts and materials. 'The fuel and prop control units were tested right there'. Ah, yes and 'I stood about there testing Dart burners. In that corner I started overhauling Dart oil coolers my first job in the shop'.

The first TCA Viscount c/n 40 CF-TGI. The first TCA Viscount
c/n 40 CF-TGI.

Sometimes it is best not to go back, but to remember things as they were, but not so today. It was good! And as I hurried down the stairs, I thought, just for a moment, I could hear the 4:30 PM bell ending the work day. 'Vicki old girl, you were more than our job; more than another aircraft. You were special. Your Darts had a whine unlike any other. What commercial aircraft ever had picture windows that passengers raved about? You were born out of the war years, when folks in the UK were on ration cards, and yet you broke the back of the American monopoly. They never forgave you for that Vicki! The big jets came all too quickly soon to overshadow your unique contribution to commercial aviation around the world. Undaunted, you pressed on, a faithful lady, favourite of pilots and appreciated by all those knew you.'

Jack Stephens


ALSO we introduce GEORGE STEWART formerly of Rhodesia who has supplied a 'death defying' account of his Viscount time in Rhodesia and Zaire. For many of us who saw Viscounts serve out their days in peaceful and sedate surroundings, it is hard to appreciate that some Viscounts were terrorist targets and George reports on two that were shot down.

GEORGE STEWART reports

Air Rhodesia Viscount c/n 298 VP-WAT. Air Rhodesia Viscount
c/n 298 VP-WAT.

I was born in Rhodesia and lived there until 1995, when I moved to New Zealand. My first air flight was in a Viscount when on leave, while doing National Service in 1961.

When Air Rhodesia was to re-equip with BAC 1-11's they postponed delivery to 1966 so a re-engined model would be available. In November 1965 a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) came about. In a high profile sanctions action the British Government blocked the BAC's sales, so we were 'stuck' with the Viscounts.

I was in business with Victoria Falls interests in the early 1970's and flew between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls about twice a week, naturally a Viscount and also frequently flying to Salisbury and Johannesburg. By this time the Viscounts were being treated with great respect as sanctions were making all spares in short supply. People began to appreciate the large window's great views.

Then of course the horrific downing of two Viscounts by SAM 7 missiles in September 1978 and March 1979, during the civil war, etched the Viscounts in to every Rhodesian's memory. The brutal shooting of survivors led to the Dean of Salisbury Cathedral to refer to 'The Deafening Silence' of world leaders' lack of condemnation.

Air Rhodesia Viscount VP-YNC painted in anti-missile paint. Air Rhodesia Viscount VP-YNC
painted in anti-missile paint.

The adoption of anti missile paint and low level flying (about 200 feet I think) made the Viscount pilots legend. I recall a Viscount flight from Victoria Falls to Kariba in early 1980, before it became Zimbabwe and during the cease fire. By this time QANTAS were doing weekly Boeing 747 flights into Rhodesia, the crew had a week layover and visited the tourist spots. I am not sure if the Viscount pilot had military intelligence or what, but he decided to give the passengers a game viewing flight down the Zambezi Valley. He dropped to 200 feet, or so it seemed, and pointed out on what side herds of animals could be seen. Occasionally he would bank slightly and trees on the top a kopjie (small hill) would slip under the wing. The QANTAS pilots were apparently petrified.

Air Zimbabwe Viscount c/n 446 Z-WGC. Air Zimbabwe Viscount
c/n 446 Z-WGC.

Air Zimbabwe continued to use the Viscounts into 1990 or there about, by this time new equipment was being introduced. This aircraft, a mainstay of air transport for over 30 years had gone through thick and thin with us all, makes the Viscounts very much part of Rhodesians' heritage.

George Stewart


Thanks for sharing that with us George.


And they keep on coming!

Bazair Viscount c/n 280 9Q-CWL. Bazair Viscount
c/n 280 9Q-CWL.

We have also received, via researcher Richard Stanton, a dramatic account supplied by ex Bazair pilot Alain Van Severen of his three months Viscount experience in Zaire. Alain notes that English is not his first language but he still manages to bring out all the drama of flying in dodgy circumstances in a war torn country. He was lucky to survive! He makes an interesting comment that a couple of Viscounts are believed to be still flying there. Can anyone definitely substantiate this claim? Anyway, we plan to run his story in the next newsletter.


NEW PAGES SINCE THE LAST NEWSLETTER


LATEST UPDATES


South African Airways Viscount c/n 346 ZS-CDT. South African Airways Viscount
c/n 346 ZS-CDT.

Julian Bourn took time off this month from his research of the BEA - British European Airways Viscount fleet to research the history of Viscount c/n 346 ZS-CDT / G-AZLP. You will remember that we reported in our last newsletter that this aircraft has been saved for restoration by the North East Aircraft Museum.

To review the history of Viscount c/n 346, on our site go to [Listings] [Aircraft Histories]. Select Construction Number 346 then press [Go].

To see the photo gallery of c/n 346 from its history click the [c/n 346 photo gallery] button.

If you can add any further information or have photos of this aircraft, please contact Julian at julian.bourn@vickersviscount.net


LATEST PHOTOS


G-AMAV c/n 3 after the air-race at Christchurch, New Zealand. G-AMAV c/n 3 after the air-race at Christchurch, New Zealand.

Since the last newsletter there have been new photos added to the following aircraft:-

c/n 3, c/n 241, c/n 280, c/n 281, c/n 346, c/n 347, c/n 402, c/n 428, c/n 435.

To see the photo gallery of an aircraft, on the site go to [Photos] [Viscount Photo Gallery]. Select the Construction Number or Registration that you are interested in, e.g. EI-AJW or 225, then press [Go]. Note; keep an eye on the right hand side red column of every page on the web site for a list of the latest 20 aircraft that have had photos added.


SPREADING THE WORD Read these success stories


G-AMAV c/n 3. Note the snow covered Southern Alps. G-AMAV c/n 3. Note the snow covered Southern Alps.

Peter Layne recently mentioned to his friend Ron Brazier of his newsletter work. Ron remarked that he had visited Christchurch to witness the arrival of Viscount c/n 3 G-AMAV in October 1953 on the conclusion of the London to Christchurch Air Race. He knew nothing of our website and was able to supply within days excellent and significant photos of an important event which otherwise may have bypassed us forever.

Consequently Ron's photographs of G-AMAV's arrival are now loaded. Note the snow covered Southern Alps in the background. Ron also supplied photographs of ZK-BRD c/n 281 at Rongotai, Wellington sometime between 1958 and 1963 and of ZK-BWO c/n 428 taking off, also at Rongotai, sometime between 1967 and 1975. Another rare photograph Ron has provided is of Royal Australian Air Force Viscount A6-435 c/n 435 on the tarmac at Rongotai on 25 January 1966. It was visiting New Zealand to take part in the official opening of Auckland International Airport at Mangere, four days later.

RAAF Viscount c/n 435 A6-435 in New Zealand. RAAF Viscount c/n 435
A6-435 in New Zealand.


The point here is that you shouldn't overlook an opportunity. Spread the word on what we are doing and we may well reap benefits. Remember too that although we look for high quality photographs we would welcome lesser quality photographs of Viscounts if they are the only ones we can trace in a particular livery or event.


Webmaster and Vickers Viscount Network co-founder Geoff Blampied has had interesting correspondence from Ali (Alison) Berry whose father, Ray Berry, started as a 17-year old freelance reporter at 'Brenards Press' in a tent at Heathrow in the late 1940s. He also reported from Prestwick Airport in Scotland, before returning to Heathrow as Chief of Public Relations for BAA in the 1970s, and retired some years ago. Ray has cuttings about the Viscounts that were withdrawn due to cracks, and a dramatic one-engine emergency landing in Bordeaux. She is compiling all the cuttings in a book recording his career.

BEA Viscount c/n 22 G-AMOI at Heathrow, England. BEA Viscount c/n 22 G-AMOI
at Heathrow, England.

Ali comments, 'It was whilst trying to source a photo to illustrate his Front Page Lead coverage of a story about Viscounts that I came upon your site.' She adds, 'I was often taken to the airport by Dad, (who I am proud to say brought me and my younger brother up by himself), to watch planes and so I 'got the bug! I always felt that the planes each had their own personality, and when I read about a Viscount battling along undefeated as one by one, three of its four engines inexplicably spluttered and failed - it became the Errol Flynn of planes!'

Geoff has kindly offered to supply them for her. Their joint effort should look really good. What a great idea and worth copying whether it be to cheer up someone who is unwell, like Ray, or as a present from, for example, the grandchildren, etc.

If anyone wants to get in touch with Ray, they can e-mail him via Ali at aliberry1@aol.com.


NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE


If you missed our first regular Newsletter, (July 2008), you can read it on the website. The July edition can be found on our site, go to [News] [Vickers Viscount Network Newsletters]. All subsequent editions will be posted there.


LIGHT HEARTED BUT TRUE VISCOUNT MOMENTS:


BKS Viscount c/n 34 G-APZC. BKS Viscount
c/n 34 G-APZC.

Julian Bourn, researcher for the Vickers Viscount Network was recently contacted by Nigel Bunce who provided a wealth of information regarding BKS/Northeast/Cambrian Viscount fleets.

Nigel, a qualified ground engineer, notes he 'could happily jaw about the aircraft till the cows come home' but recalls one particular incident as follows:-

Oh, and I also own a 5/16 BSF open ended spanner which is partially melted in two places due to shorting out from the battery bus on Panels J & K (ask any Viscount engineer and he will know where they are on the aircraft). I had to kick it off the bus's as it was red hot and solidly welded on!

IF YOU have a light hearted BUT TRUE Viscount moment to share, or any other information for the newsletter, please send it direct to both the Newsletter Editors for consideration at membership@vickersviscount.net.


Best regards

Peter Layne, Wellington, New Zealand, Ed Jones, Manchester, England and all the team at the Vickers Viscount Network.



To provide information and photos for inclusion in the Virtual Museum please send them to information@vickersviscount.net
Photos should be scanned as jpg's at 300 dpi or over. If you need help scanning your photos then contact Brian Burrage at brian.burrage@vickersviscount.net who provides the Vickers Viscount Network quality, secure and FREE scanning service.

To add a friend or colleague to the Vickers Viscount Network membership, on the site go to [Home] [Join the Vickers Viscount Network for free] [Click here to join the Vickers Viscount Network].

To cancel your membership to the Vickers Viscount Network send an e-mail to
membership@vickersviscount.net.

Any opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Vickers Viscount Network or the Newsletter Editors.

Photo of BEA - British European Airways Viscount G-AOJC

The Vickers Viscount Network is always interested to hear from anyone who has information or photographs to help complete the story of the Viscount. If you can help please contact us at
Information@VickersViscount.net.


Click here for more details about the Vickers Viscount Network

This website has been designed, built and is maintained by Geoff Blampied, Norwich, Norfolk, England.