Wednesday, October 29, 2003

BA Concorde dispersal

After months of speculation, the lucky custodians of the British Airways Concorde fleet have now been revealed from proposed flight plans :

G-BOAA - East Fortune (Museum of Flight)
G-BOAB - Heathrow (Terminal 5)
G-BOAC - Manchester Airport Viewing Park
G-BOAD - New York Intrepid Air and Space Museum
G-BOAE - Seattle Museum of Flight
G-BOAF - Filton (Airbus/proposed new museum)
G-BOAG - Barbados

The fate of the remaining unairworthy Concorde at Filton (G-BBDG) is not yet clear.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Air Sea Rescue Sycamore goes on display at Hendon

RAF Sycamore HR Mk.12 WV783 has now gone on display at the RAF Museum at Hendon. The helicopter has been immaculately restored and repainted in the Air Sea Rescue colours with which it flew in the 1950's. It spent many years in storage, with a brief spell on display at RNAY Fleetlands, and was completely rebuilt from a near-derelict state to pristine condition by the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society in less than two years. The RAF Museum at Hendon has been completely re-organised this year, in preparation for the grand re-opening on 17th December 2003, to commemorate 100 years of powered flight.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Blenheim landing accident

The sole airworthy Bristol Blenheim, G-BPIV "R3821", suffered a serious landing accident at its Duxford base on 18th August, fortunately with no injuries to those on board. The full extent of the damage will not be known until a full survey has been done. It appears that the aircraft suffered a starboard engine failure on approach, leading to a loss of height, causing the undercarriage to hit a mound near the runway. The gear collapsed on landing, with the aircraft ending up on its belly. Apart from the obvious damage to the gear and underside, the starboard engine and its mountings appears to have sustained some damage.

It has been reported that the Blenheim is repairable, but will certainly be out of action for some time. The Bristol Blenheim was notorious for single engine flying, so it is a great credit to the pilot, John Webb, that the aircraft landed without more serious damage, and without injury.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Bristols at RIAT '03

The Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford on 19th and 20th July is celebrating 100 years of powered flight. They are aiming to bring many historic aircraft from museums and collections around the UK to the site, forming an impressive line up of significant aircraft over the past century. It is believed that Bristol Scout A1742 was originally requested, but unfortunately the restoration will not be ready in time. Another rumoured Bristol aircraft is Sycamore XG547 of The Helicopter Museum, which was noted on a trailer at Yeovilton on 23rd June. Bristol Blenheim R3821 (G-BPIV) of the Aircraft Restoration Company will be in the static display this year.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Duxford Fighter update

The following has been placed on The Fighter Collections website, regarding their F2b Fighter rebuild, D8084 (G-ACAA).

".... we have received the Bristol F2b Fighter's Rolls Royce Falcon crankcase back from Vintage Engine Technology who have reconditioned it following the chrome contamination. The contamination occurred when a piston ring picked up on a liner and removed some of the chrome from it.

Thankfully the crankshaft bearings survived undamaged without having to be replated, but some corrosion was found in the crankshaft sludge traps which has been polished out and treated. The Cylinders have been received back from Poetons who have stripped and rechromed them after we found problems with the previously applied ceramic chrome. The engineers are working to try and get the engine back together in time for Legends [12th/13th July 2003], but its an uphill struggle with every thing else that we have going on."

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Concorde update

Air France have announced the intended new homes for their Concorde fleet:

Concorde 205 - F-BVFA - destined for the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles Airport, part of the Smithsonian

Concorde 207 - F-BVFB - destined for the Auto und Technik Museum, Sinsheim in Germany, next to their Tupolev Tu-144. It will fly to the nearest airfield, be dismantled, and transported to the museum on a barge, in the same fashion as their Tu-144

Concorde 209 - F-BVFC - destined to go on display outside the Airbus A.380 plant at Toulouse

Concorde 213 - F-BTSD - destined to go to the Musee de l'Aire at Le Bourget, and may be delivered during the Paris Air Show

Concorde 215 - F-BVFF - destined to go on display at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris

Interestingly, two of the sites listed (Toulouse and Le Bourget) already have Concordes on display. As regards the British Airways fleet, Filton, Brooklands, Heathrow, Cosford and Seattle seem like the front runners in the race to acquire one.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Concorde for retirement

As has been widely covered in the media, British Airways and Air France have jointly announced that they will now cease Concorde services this year. British Airways have said that they will donate their entire fleet to museums and other display sites, after services finish on 30th September. A number of museums outside the UK have stated for some time that on retirement they would like a Concorde - namely the Smithsonians Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles Airport, and The Auto & Technik Museum at Sinsheim in Germany, who already have a Tupolev Tu-144. These may be Air France or British Airways examples.

It is believed that around 30 museums have requested a Concorde - the front runners must be the Bristol Aero Collection, who plan to move to Filton, (where British Concordes were assembled) this winter, and the Brooklands Aviation Museum, where a large number of major sections were built. The Bristol Aero Collection have requested G-BOAF (Concorde 216), which was the last one built in the UK. Other museums thought to be in the running are the Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford, the Museum of Flight at East Fortune, the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington, the new Airliner Park at Manchester Airport, and the Bristol Heritage Collection in Nashville,Tennessee. British Airways also wish to retain a Concorde for display at Heathrow Airport, probably on the entrance road.

Of the 7 strong fleet, four are believed to be currently in service - G-BOAC, G-BOAD, G-BOAE and G-BOAG - and will continue until the end of September. G-BOAA has been withdrawn from use for some time, with no plans to make it airworthy. G-BOAB has also been grounded, but kept airworthy, and would have been the next aircraft to be brought up to post-Paris standards. G-BOAF is out of hours, and was due for a 3 month check. Therefore, both 'AB and 'AF are airworthy, but could not be used for passenger services.

UPDATE - G-BOAF returned to service during the summer.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Beaufort rebuild starts in Tennessee

Graham Kilsby of the Bristol Heritage Collection in Tennessee has announced that a Beaufort rebuild project is just about to start. Several Beaufort sections, recovered from Papa New Guinea in the 1970's, have been stored at Chino in California for the past few decades. Transportation of the sections to Tennessee has started, with a forward fuselage, rear fuselage and tail section being trucked the 2,600 miles across the USA on 21st March. The sections arrived at Stripmasters Inc. of Nashville on 25th March. Here they will be identified, photographed etc., before being cleaned by beed blasting, and also blasting with dry ice, a relatively new method that removes the old paint and years of surface corrosion without actually harming the metal.

From there, the sections will be taken to Hassel Field, Clifton, Tennessee home of the new BHC restoration shop to join the Lysander and the Swordfish, where the various sections will be set in jigs prior to the long restoration. As the sections are from Australian-built Mk VIII Beauforts, they had Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engines, which makes it a little easier to find engines and parts in the US. The Mk.I's built in the UK were the sole users of the Bristol Taurus, and it is thought that none survive. In April the main large wing centre section and outer wing sections will be moved in from California and the same process applied, before starting on moving the Bolingbroke sections into Tennessee. Bristol Heritage Collection is a 501(c)3 tax exempt charity as recognised by the IRS and any help in the form of donations or pledges, especially from Australians in the US would be warmly welcomed. Graham Kilsby can be contacted on (615) 383 9090.

Update: It had been determined that the rear fuselage section is from A9-555, which flew with No.100 Squadron RAAF as QH-S, and the stern fuselage section is from A9-182, which flew with No.7 Squadon RAAF. The forward fuselage has been confidently identified as also coming from A9-555.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Australian War Memorial Beaufort goes on display

The Australian War Memorial, at the Treloar Technology Center in Canberra, has recently completed the restoration of its static Beaufort, A9-557. The preparation of each section has been performed by several organisations, for example the Beaufort Restoration Group were tasked with cleaning up the rear fuselage. The sections were mated together again earlier this year, and the finished example went in display in the ANZAC Hall on 8th March. The official unveiling will take place on 28th March, by the Australian Prime Minister and the Chief of the Air Force.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Bristol Freighter to the UK?

It has been revealed that tender for Bristol Frieghter VH-ADL has been won by Roger Hargreaves, trustee of the Bristol Aero Collection, and founder of the Britannia Aircraft Preservation Trust. The plan is that the aircraft will be transported by sea to the UK, and will be loaned to the Bristol Aero Collection for display when it moves to Filton Airfield. The cost of shipping will be substantial, and funding is needed if the UK wants to see an example of this much-needed aircraft on its shores.
Update: The deal to move the Freighter to the UK fell through, but the aircraft has been saved, and it moved to Moorabbin in 2004.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Unusual use for a Bristol Freighter

When airliners reach the end of their useful lives, most are scrapped, but a few are saved for preservation. Others end up as themed restaurants, night clubs or even as homes. A new and unusual use has been found for ex Royal New Zealand Air Force Freighter ZK-EPC/NZ5906. Towards the end of 2002, it was converted into two self contained motel units in Woodlyn Park, near the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand. The rooms can be booked for NZ$95 per night, on-line at

Thursday, January 16, 2003

New home for Bristol Scout

Several publications have recently highlighted the fact that Bristol Scout D replica A1742 is nearing the end of its restoration. It is due to go on display at the Bristol Aero Collection at Kemble, UK, in the summer of 2003. Some authentic items have now been fitted, including the undercarriage, a wicker seat, a replica Lewis gun, and a restored propeller. The aircraft still has an electric motor driving the propeller. As of January 2003, the wings need to be fitted, along with the associated rigging, and the fuselage does not have any fabric.