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

February 2016

Discover more of the history of the Viscount from the pages of our Newsletters

The Captain Peter Scott Interview

Dear Member

Scotland Flag


During the last few months you will have been enjoying Captain Peter Scott's superb photographs taken during his time as a Viscount Captain with BAF - British Air Ferries and BWA - British World Airlines. These photographs are a unique record of the Viscount operating in one of the most demanding environments during the last years of flying in the UK. Sumburgh in Shetland is well known for its turbulent weather and subsequent challenging crosswind landings. Not only is this a tribute to the quality of airmanship required, but it also confirms what a superb aeroplane the Viscount was, particularly as this was very much the swansong of its operational life.

BAF - British Air Ferries V.802 series Viscount G-AOHM - Peter Scott

BAF - British Air Ferries V.802 series Viscount G-AOHM - Peter Scott

What follows is the result of an interview between Captain Peter Scott, myself and Clive Worboys which I am sure you will enjoy immensely. My thanks go to Peter for taking the time and trouble to answer our questions in such depth.

VVN asked; - When did your love of aeroplanes and flying start - was it inspired by any particular event?

Peter Scott replied; -

I became interested in aircraft and flying at a very early age. My dad built model balsawood aircraft and we flew them in local fields. I can remember back to about 4 years old. I started making balsa & tissue aircraft too in my early teens but I preferred making Airfix & Revell plastic warplane kits.

I tried twice at school to get an RAF scholarship and attended selections at Biggin Hill. I was not successful but this was my first travel experience on my own. Quite stressful getting trains from a small country town in Scotland to London and Biggin Hill. From about the age of 15 my desire was to become a pilot, obviously greatly influenced by my dad, who had done national service in the photo reconnaissance section of the RAF in post war Malaya.

I had no idea how I was going to achieve my dream and was advised to go to university as it was wise to always have a degree to fall back on. I went to Aberdeen University and achieved an MA Honours degree in Geography. The first thing I did at 'fresher's week' was to apply for the University Air Squadron. A couple of weeks later I succeeded in passing the interview and started flying the Chipmunk in 1975. After a few months the Chipmunks were sold off and the squadrons re equipped with brand new Scottish Aviation Bulldogs.

Scottish Aviation Bulldog T.1 XX616 taken in March 1983

Scottish Aviation Bulldog T.1 XX616 taken in March 1983

There was a maximum period of two years within the RAF VR and 65 hours flying, unless one intended to pursue an RAF career. My initial desire to try and become a fast jet pilot within the RAF quickly changed when I experienced a taste of RAF life coupled with all the defence cut backs and the thought of compulsory desk assignments. I obtained my PPL when I finished my air squadron training during 3rd year university and hired club C172 & Grumman Traveller sharing the costs with family and friends. Finishing training with the UAS now enabled me to concentrate on studying for my degree which I completed in 1978.

After university I got a job as a bus driver in Aberdeen and saved up over a year. I then started working at Pegasus Flying Club at Aberdeen airport, washing and cleaning aircraft, answering telephones etc. in exchange for hours building towards training as an instructor. I completed my FI course at ANT in Blackpool in 1981 and then carried on instructing at Aberdeen for 2 years. I then self-studied for CPL exams over the winter and completed all the written exams at AST Perth. I did my IR on an Aztec with SFT in Bournemouth in 1983.

My first commercial job was with Air Foyle flying Aztecs on a TNT contract between Aberdeen and East Midlands. I really enjoyed the single pilot operation but had a lot of very unpleasant winter weather experiences. I learned a lot about icing during this period. I was interviewed by BAF, while at Air Foyle, but while they seemed to be interested, suggested I try and gain experience on turbo props. After about 18 months I got a job as an FO on the Jetstream 31 with Peregrine Air Services again in Aberdeen, flying on contract to BP and BA schedule to Manchester. After 11 months we were advised to look for other jobs as the future of the company had become uncertain.

It was at this stage that an opportunity opened again with BAF. All my past experience now worked very well for me. I had accumulated a lot of hours instructing and night freighting and two crew turbo prop experience on the J31. The BAF contract in Aberdeen was with Shell which required captains to have 5,000 hrs and FOs 3,000 hrs.

I started training on the Viscount during March 1986 at Southend and then had to gain 100 hrs on type before being able to work on the Shell contract. This was done on other BAF freight and passenger charters to the Channel Islands. I eventually got home to Aberdeen operating mainly on the Shell contract in June 1986. I became a captain in July 1987, age 31.

VVN asked; - Did you especially want to fly the Viscount, or did that just happen?

Peter Scott replied; -

The Viscount job at BAF just 'happened'. I wanted to remain based in Aberdeen and that job came up at the right time. My experience now worked to my advantage. A relatively early command due to my now having 5,000 hrs. Last flight was 19 January 1996 on G-AOHM the same aircraft that I started on 30 April 1986. The company, now BWA, had decided to phase out the Viscount and operate the ATR 72 on the Shell contract. For career reasons I decided, reluctantly, to go on the first training course on the ATR, while the Viscount continued to be used in tandem on the Shell contract until sufficient crews were up and running.

BAF - British Air Ferries V.802 series Viscount G-AOHM taken in May 1986 - Alastair T Gardiner

BAF - British Air Ferries V.802 series Viscount G-AOHM taken in May 1986 - Alastair T Gardiner

It was a massive leap in technology and training on modern simulators but looking back now, that time flying the Viscount was definitely a period in my career that I count as a real privilege to have experienced. Throughout that decade I was tempted to consider converting to the BAE 146 and the BAC 1-11 but I decided, for family reasons, to remain on the Shell contract based in Aberdeen. Obviously that decision to remain in Aberdeen meant that I remained on turbo props and when BWA finally collapsed in 2001 I found myself unemployed for 7 months and with no modern jet type rating. Again a new opening with Gama aviation came along operating the Beech 200 Kingair on contract to the Scottish Ambulance Service, where I continue to work.

VVN asked; - What was the Viscount like to fly and was it a ‘Pilot's aeroplane’?

Peter Scott replied; -

I didn't have great career aspirations to move on to jets as this would have required a move away from my home base of Aberdeen and I had decided, for family reasons, to remain in whatever job I could get. I also decided against any career advancement which would require being based away from home as I had seen so many broken marriages caused by such decisions. I was definitely tempted on several occasions to move on to a jet, especially seeing colleagues leaving and progressing up the career ladder. Although I flew the Viscount for 10 years this was primarily fortuitous because this opportunity allowed me to remain in Aberdeen.

I have not come across any pilot, who flew the Viscount, say anything negative about their experience with the aircraft. It was definitely one of the classic British aircraft which was designed just right and proved itself by its long operating history with many major airlines, in many countries and latterly with BAF/BWA in various specific roles, in particular the Shell contract to Sumburgh in Shetland from Aberdeen, ferrying oil workers for onward flight by helicopters to oil rigs NE of Shetland. The Viscount proved to be the ideal aircraft for this contract. Capable of carrying 70 passengers in relative comfort to Sumburgh in 45 minutes, it vastly reduced the oil workers' exposure to longer more uncomfortable flights in S 61 helicopters.

BWA - British World Airlines V.836 series Viscount G-BFZL taken in December 1993 - Mike J Sessions

BWA - British World Airlines V.836 series Viscount G-BFZL taken in December 1993 - Mike J Sessions

Due to the Viscount's age it was now operating on reduced cabin pressure limits requiring normal maximum Flight Levels of 170. This was not a problem on the sector length from Aberdeen to Sumburgh of 185nm. It was still possible, for short periods, to climb higher to avoid weather but generally the vast majority of flights operated between FL120 and FL170.

Regarding weather the Viscount was stable and robust operating in the windy turbulent, conditions frequently experienced in Shetland. In comparison the ATR 72, being so much lighter, was very uncomfortable in these conditions and lead to mutinous talk from the oil workforce; to the extent that safety presentations had to be given over several months onshore and on all the oil platforms. As I was now an ATR 72 training captain and Fleet Manager I was tasked in presenting a safety case and economic reasons for having to phase our 'beloved' Viscount out of service and move onto newer economically more efficient aircraft.

I found this extremely difficult as I knew that the Viscount had reached the end of its economic life and the ATR, on paper, seemed to be the perfect replacement. The ATR certainly had impressive performance specifications and a beautifully designed flight deck BUT it certainly did not meet the exacting requirements that a frequently commuting offshore workforce had grown accustomed to. They now had to endure a cramped passenger cabin with much smaller windows, less comfortable seats but more importantly they now felt the weather we were flying in, in particular uncomfortable cross wind take-offs and landings.

Handling wise the Viscount was perfectly designed to land smoothly in all weather conditions. As pilots our goal was to land so smoothly that you could barely perceive touching the runway, an almost impossible feat in the ATR! Our regular passengers had grown used to such comfortable landings and the introduction of the ATR came as a real and literally physical shock. The ATR was perceived as being less safe and far more uncomfortable. The workforce wanted the Viscount brought back. It was truly a very difficult introductory period trying to persuade an angry and disbelieving workforce that the ATR was indeed a worthy Viscount replacement. To speak persuasively I really did have to convince myself that I was speaking the truth. I had to believe everything about the new aircraft because there was no other option.

Looking back now I wish the Viscount was still operational. Yes it had an ergonomically poorly designed flight deck, typical of aircraft of that era, but once you became familiar with the instrument layout, poor lighting and primitive flight director, operating that airframe with such reliable, albeit fuel thirsty engines, was a pilot's dream machine. The only engine problems I encountered were in the primitive simulator and sometimes during engine start when you had to develop the skill of 'milking' the HP cocks during hot starts. It was almost impossible to either over torque or over temp the engines unlike all the other engines I have subsequently operated. In 10 years of operation I never had engine problems in flight and none of the frequent spurious electronic warnings so common on more recent aircraft. Indeed it was a comfort to know that you could still fly on two engines and even take off and ferry the aircraft on three engines!

One of the very best features of the Viscount was the wing de-icing system. Flying in icing conditions was just no issue at all, in comparison to all later turbo props with rubber pneumatic wing boots. This was a brilliant design feature with a simple flap in the jet pipe feeding hot exhaust gas through heat exchangers into the wing leading edges with virtually no loss of engine performance. I just wish this system had been adopted on all subsequent aircraft. Sometimes when these flaps in the jet pipes stopped working they just required a gentle tap with a hammer from an engineer on arrival back in Aberdeen!

BWA - British World Airlines ATR 72 G-OILA - Gary Watt

BWA - British World Airlines ATR 72 G-OILA - Gary Watt

The Viscount was a real wide body turbo prop with spacious under floor holds. These were very practical and much easier to load than the ATR and ATP we later operated. Freight could also be loaded without having to reconfigure the passenger cabin. On a sombre note I remember seeing them being loaded with coffins, in Aberdeen, to transport up to Sumburgh after the Chinook crash, which claimed the lives of 43 passengers and 2 crew on 6th November 1986. I had been in the Sumburgh office waiting for the passengers off that flight when it crashed. A very sad time.

One of the weaknesses of the Viscount was the maxaret anti-skid system in conjunction with the propeller ground fine pitch stop mechanism. On 'normal' runways this never presented a problem but in Sumburgh, whenever landing on the shorter runway 27/09 (at that time), many tyres ended up being burst of flat spotted. Several ground staff in Sumburgh were trained and approved to change wheels whenever this happened, which was not an uncommon event.

This was due to pilot landing technique and 'panic' with the runway rapidly disappearing behind and the sea rapidly approaching in front!! If the aircraft was landed very smoothly or at a slightly higher touchdown speed the propeller fine pitch stops would cycle between ground and flight fine with no deceleration. If that occurred many would panic and apply maximum braking as the end of the runway rapidly approached leading to puffs of blue smoke and the smell of burning rubber! In this situation it would be best to pull back on the control column (not instinctive on landing!) to allow the aircraft weight to compress the main gear oleos and thus cause the micro switches to operate bringing the propellers into ground fine pitch resulting in instant deceleration. Many would do the exact opposite pushing the control column forward, which would have the exact opposite effect, reducing the weight off the main gear oleos and not allowing the micro switches to make resulting in the propellers remaining at flight fine with no helpful deceleration.

Applying maximum braking in this manner with the maxaret units not having spun up properly caused the frequent tyre damage. I think most new pilots unfortunately learned this lesson during initial operations into Sumburgh. Most of the time it was only one flat spotted tyre, occasionally one each side and on rare occasions, of either mishandling or panic, all four main tyres have been burst!! The Viscount certainly had an excellent braking system and I loved the hand brake lever mechanism on the control column. This worked extremely well and was easy to apply gentle, or extreme, even braking during the landing roll. This was another Viscount feature I would love to have had on other aircraft I have operated.

Obviously the Viscount had all the required items of equipment just like any modern aircraft. They were often WW2 vintage and had the appearance of something you would expect to see on an old tractor or land rover. But they worked well, unlike the windscreen wipers on the brand new ATR 72! The ATR wipers were so bad we ended up having to apply rainex to the windscreens and not bother using them!! The Smith's flight director and autopilot were again primitive, by modern standards, but again with training and experience they were just as accurate as modern EFIS equipped aircraft.

A few years ago I visited Brooklands to see one of my old Viscounts, G-APIM, and having got used to EFIS screens and modern FD displays was amazed to have these old memories rekindled. How did we operate such antiquated systems in the wild and nasty weather we frequently encountered in Shetland? With training we operated the Viscount to the same limits as any modern aircraft. Our 'instrument scan' was traditional using very basic, by modern standards, flight displays. This was a really valuable traditional grounding in instrument flying few pilots undergoing training today will ever experience.

Peter Scott on the flight deck of the Brooklands Museum V.806 series Viscount G-APIM

Peter Scott on the flight deck of the Brooklands Museum V.806 series Viscount G-APIM

Thinking of the weather we flew in we did not encounter the massive CBs other airlines encountered flying in the USA or Africa, for example, but I have probably been struck by lightning 5 or 6 times. This usually presented with a loud sudden bang with little or no damage. On landing back in Aberdeen the engineers would hunt for tell-tale tiny entry /exit holes, sometimes finding a nav light cover had been blown off or the ADF aerial damaged. Being struck by lightning was very alarming for the passengers because of the sudden loud bang and on one occasion a form of ball lightning was seen to travel down inside the passenger cabin!

My most memorable experience was departing Sumburgh one evening. My FO was handling pilot and we had just completed the visual low level climbing turn off runway 15 to avoid Compass hill. We were probably passing about 1,000 ft. when, out of the clear dark night, I thought the end of the world had come.

There had been no indication of any CB activity and no lightning flashes visible from the ground prior to departure. The entire aircraft in front of me suddenly disappeared, enveloped by the most intense blue/ white light I have ever experienced. There was no noise and no warning. I was completely disorientated thinking that the end had come and the aircraft had blown up around me! Shortly after my FO said it was a lightning strike and I was beginning to get my senses back. I Called ATC to inform them we had suffered a lightning strike and just as I was in mid conversation we were struck again! I was completely blinded for the second time and it took several minutes to recover my vision. Luckily my FO had been looking in at the instruments during the departure and had not had his vision impaired. Had this occurred a little earlier when we were both looking outside during the visual departure manoeuvre I dread to think? I always wonder what might have happened with both of us losing vision and spatial awareness at low level at the same time!!

I think that has probably been one of the scariest moments in my career. It came with no warning and no characteristic bang, no black blindness but vision impairment by the most intensely bright light I have ever experienced. I suppose you could simulate the effect by sitting comfortably in a darkened room and having someone activate a camera flash right in front of you with no warning. It would indeed be an alarming experience when not expecting it.

BWA - British World Airlines V.804 series Viscount G-CSZB - Clive Worboys

BWA - British World Airlines V.807B series Viscount G-CSZB - Clive Worboys

Handling wise the Viscount was smooth and stable and easy to manoeuvre. It was a pilot's dream machine for low approaches and go arounds 'for training' which I sometimes carried out on empty positioning flights back into Sumburgh, an airfield where ATC welcomed passing military jets for flybys. We certainly had to compete with the military and show off what the Viscount was capable of! It's such a shame that these 'training' events can't go down in writing!!

The Viscount was a dream to fly and I frequently thought at the time what an aircraft it would be with modern fuel efficient engines and modern flight deck. Sadly I don't think that any modern turbo prop has remotely met the all-round beauty, comfort, reliability and pilot friendly characteristics designed into the Viscount. The designers got it so right so long ago.

It has been a huge privilege to have had the opportunity to fly it for 10 enjoyable years. Our regular passengers also realised what an aircraft it was when they were forced to fly on its brand new, state of the art, modern ATR 72 replacement. Designing the lightweight ATR might have realised airline accountants’ dreams but it certainly fell well short of the mark for passengers and pilots having experienced such a magnificent aircraft that was the Viscount. I will never forget it. It was both a pilot's and a passenger's aircraft. You only have to ask anyone who has flown in it to realise what a superb classic was designed and manufactured by British engineers.

VVN asked; - We know you flew the V.800 Series with BAF and BWA, but did you also get the opportunity to fly the V.700 Series as well? If so, how did they compare?

Peter Scott replied; -

No I only flew the V.802, V.806 and V.807B. The V.807B (G-CSZB) was a 'one off' which was kept in Aberdeen and required difference training. The main obvious differences were large engine fire extinguisher flap covers on the instrument panel coaming and lack of a Smith's FD system. Apart from that its flying characteristics were very similar to the V.802 and V.806.

I also flew the freighter G-BBDK on a few occasions, which was a V.808, which also required difference training, but I can't really remember much about the differences on this model.

BWA - British World Airlines V.808 series Viscount G-BBDK - Carl Ford

BWA - British World Airlines V.808 series Viscount G-BBDK - Carl Ford

VVN asked; - We know you particularly enjoyed flying the Aberdeen - Sumburgh return route. What made it so very special?

Peter Scott replied; -

Many friends and colleagues wondered why I loved my job so much. The cartoon helps explain a lot. Working at my home base and getting home every day was very important to me. Far more important than career and operating the latest equipment. It just so happened that my working life coincided with operating one of the best British aircraft ever designed. I loved flying. The shorter the flight the better. I did not relish any long flights spending hours in boring cruising flight. The sector length of 45 minutes between Aberdeen and Sumburgh met this perfectly. Lots of take offs and landings and little boring cruise time.

Peanuts cartoon by Schulz

During my time operating to Sumburgh, runway 33/15 was longer than the shorter instrument runway 27/09. Because of the visual manoeuvring required to operate on 15/33 the airport was classified as Cat C, requiring detailed written briefs with SOPs approved by the CAA. It was both demanding and exciting operating a large heavy 4 engine turbo prop into such an airfield with relatively short limiting runways combined with close in terrain and extremely changeable weather conditions. Indeed it was very rare for the weather to be the same when we returned to Sumburgh for our second rotation (Most shifts required two round trips).

So although 99.9% of my BAF/BWA flying was between Aberdeen and Sumburgh the variety of approaches and weather conditions made up for the lack of route variety. Operating the Viscount was the icing on the cake. It was never the same when we changed onto the ATR 72 and then moving airfields to Scatsta further north with the ATP. I was, in effect, working in my 'back yard' (as per the cartoon) but it was indeed a very enjoyable 'back yard' to work in. Routine, yes but with a fantastic aircraft and colleagues to work with. An extremely enjoyable and unforgettable experience.

Captain Peter Scott

Canada Flag


In the March 2016 newsletter

In the March newsletter Vickers Viscount Network core member Robert Arnold from Winnipeg in Canada gives us an insight into the restoration of the only potentially airworthy Viscount - V.724 series CF-THS, initially operated by TCA – Trans-Canada Airlines and subsequently by Air Canada. Robert is one of the dedicated team of volunteers working on this Viscount.

WCAM - Western Canada Aviation Museum V.757 series Viscount CF-THS - Matthew Capina

WCAM - Western Canada Aviation Museum V.757 series Viscount CF-THS - Matthew Capina

The 2016 Vickers Viscount Network Event

England Flag


We are now pleased to confirm the date and venue of the next Vickers Viscount Network Event. It will take place at the Midland Air Museum, next to Coventry Airport on Sunday, 25th September 2016.

Some of you may remember or even attended the most recent Vickers Viscount Network event which took place at MAM in 2013. If you are interested in attending, helping on the day or even giving a presentation, please email the Network by clicking on the button below.

Email the Vickers Viscount Network - Information@VickersViscount.net

There is limited capacity, so we do need to get as accurate number of attendees as soon as possible. There is no charge for the event, only the museums general admission entry fee will be needed to be paid. The event is open to both members and none members, and their friends and families.

The 2013 event was a great success so we hope to build on that. MAM is home to many notable aircraft, and of course of most interest to members of the Vickers Viscount Network is the ex Air France and Air Inter V.708 series Viscount F-BGNR. For more information about the museum visit theit website by clicking on the button below.

Midland Air Museum website

Look out for more details about the event in forthcoming newsletters, on our Facebook and Twitter pages, and of course on our main website.

MAM - Midland Air Museum V.708 series Viscount F-BGNR - Malcolm Lambert

MAM - Midland Air Museum V.708 series Viscount F-BGNR - Malcolm Lambert

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We thank you for your continued support and look forward to hearing from you with your Viscount stories and photos in 2016. All the best

Claire Worboys

Newsletter editorial and production team

Claire Worboys - Marketing and PR Manager, England.
Clive Worboys - Reporter, England.
Geoff Blampied - Website and Newsletter Production, Norwich, England

Although every endeavour is made to find an answer to questions, please appreciate that the team here at the Vickers Viscount Network are all unpaid volunteers who fit this work in with their daytime jobs and chores around home. Any opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Vickers Viscount Network or the newsletter editors and production team.

Photo of BEA - British European Airways Viscount G-AOJC

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