Those Were the Days!!!! Aviation from the Archives 1967 part 4

In the final part of the 4 part series branch chairman Brian Richards takes a look back at the Aviation events of 1967 from October to December.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS!!!!  October 1967

Air Pictorial reported just 3 STN visitors in October 1967, G-AVPZ, Trener Master (9), G-AVTV Rallye ((22) and WJ913 Varsity from Pershore (24). AB Digest added a few more with Beech 55 HB-GOZ (12) and PA30 G-AVSJ (25), plus more Qantas B707 crew training with VH-EBD (11) and VH-EBI (15). I guess there must have been far more but it was the days of “eyeball” rather than FR24 playback records. Likewise some speculation creeps into the 50 year old paper based reports as evidenced by Digest recording the presence at SEN on 1st of Spantax DC-4 as arriving for overhaul, yet APic comments it was a departure that day after an engine change! Digest also notes 2 Pembroke at SEN on 18th, WV736 and WV743 (whereas AP mentions just one but does report Valetta WJ504 the same day).  Other twins into SEN were Cessna 320 HB-LDK (16) and Dove D-IBYC (27).

Another Pembroke went to Northolt, Belgian AF RM-10 (23) where locals must have be shaken out of their slumbers with the arrival the same day of Gannet XA466; a then rarity on 26th was Piaggio PD-808 MM578.  Twins at LTN in the month included Queen Air D-ILFU(14), Cessna 320 F-BKXT and Marquis F-BLLU (18), the latter another ear-shatterer followed by another the next day, ear abuser Cessna 337 N23965. Twin Otter CF-UCD and King Air N253MZ arrived 24th. Ironically bearing in mind LTN based Monarch’s recent demise after 49 years after starting operations with Britannias, it was reported that Globe Air Britannia HB-ITC had had an engine removed and the aircraft impounded for failure to pay parking fees. Globe Air couldn’t recover from the crash in April of sister ship HB-ITB at Nicosia killing 126 people, and it ceased operations in October 1967. Elsewhere, LHR saw a Luftwaffe mini invasion on 23/25th with C-131 CA+032 and CA+034, plus JetStar CA+101.  First visits included Pan Am B707s N427PA, N428PA, N434PA and N435PA, Egyptian B707s SU-AOC and SU-AOL, TWA B707 N5774T, and a non-Boeing, CL44D N123SW of Seaboard World with Super VC10 G-ASGK being delivered to BOAC on 27th.

On the UK Civil Register there was a veritable flood of new Piper PA-28 series registered,  with no less than 19 Cherokees registered on the 19th alone in the G-AVWx series, all for Distributor CSE Aviation, and on the same day 4 new Cessna for Rogers Aviation.  Air Touring registered 2 new Rallye (VVJ, VVK) and Nipper 3 T66 (VXC,VXD,VXE), but more interesting was the addition of 3 de-mobbed Anson 18 (VVO,VVP, VVR) and ex Pan Am DC-7CF G-AVXH for Trans-World Leasing at LTN. In this time of mass imports onto the UK register it is interesting to compare with the new registrations appearing this same month in France where, of course, local manufacture of GA aircraft was (still is) encouraged. Of the newly manufactured aircraft registered there is just one example of an imported single engine type (F-BOOE PA-28) but 21 French types. By coincidence in Digest for Nov67 Rod Simpson – yes the same! – has an excellent illustrated article on French light aircraft.

Some notable miscellaneous events this month. On the airline front in the USA Frontier Airlines purchased similarly Convair equipped Central. Elsewhere in the States on the 3rd  U.S. Air Force Major William J. Knight sets a new world airspeed record in the North American X-15A-2, reaching Mach 6.72 (4,520 mph, 7,274 km/h), and lands safely despite multiple structural failures that cause the X-15’s scramjet module to separate from the aircraft and damage the fuel-jettison system. It was the highest speed achieved by any aircraft at any time during the 20th century. Not to be totally outdone, in the USSR on the 5th  Soviet test pilot Mikhail M. Komarov averages 2,981.5 km/h (1,851.5 mph) over a 500-km (310.5-mile) closed circuit in a Mig Ye-155, setting a new speed record for the distance with no payload. The same day Soviet test pilot Alexander V. Fedotov sets a new altitude record with a 1,000-kg (2,205-pound) payload in a Mig Ye-155, reaching 29,977 meters (98,349 feet). Sadly, also in the US, Clifton Williams, one of its trainee astronauts dies when he crashes in his T-38; he was not the only member of the US space programme personnel to perish in a T-38.

Needless to say I am struggling re military news but there is a report of South Arabian Air Force (Aden) deliveries via Airwork at Hurn including Beavers 301, 302, 303 plus Sioux 403 and C-47 202. At the time Airwork had a small fleet of 8 Scimitars, Hunter T8 XL582 and a “new” arrival ex Hal Far (Malta) Meteor T7 WL332; documented as all used for pilot training on swept wing aircraft. Maybe the Meteor had been heavily modified! Overseas, RAAF Fairbairn (nr Canberra) hosted an Air Force Week event. Home then to 32 Sqdn, a VIP unit equipped with 2 CV-340, 2 HS748 and 3 Mystere 20. The flying display included mirror aerobatics  by 2 Winjeels, Neptune, C130, a formation of 4 Canberra, and the 5 x F-86 equipped “Marksman” RAAF aerobatic team. Additionally there was a large RAF contingent, Argosies XP445 and 449, Britannia XM489, Comet C4 XR397 and Vulcan XL427 which competed noisewise with the three RAAF Mirages which apparently did lots of passes and rapid climbs and not much else.

In Vietnam the war continued and the US Navy’s first fully dedicated S&R unit, Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Seven (HC-7) makes its first successful rescue when on 3rd it saves a US airman downed in Haiphong Harbour, in the North. On 8th aircraft strike Cat Bi airfield for the first time and 2 weeks later successfully attack North Vietnam’s largest airfield Phuc Yen Air Base. The US Army’s first helicopter gunship, the Bell AH-1G Cobra entered the war zone for the first time, also on the 8th, when 2 AH-1G escorted transport helicopters in support of the South Vietnamese Army and destroyed enemy fortifications and sank 14 sampans.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS!!!!  November 1967

Information on STN visitors for the month probably reflects the limited movements with the onset of the winter months, but 11th saw Varsity WF417 from the Blind Landing Experimental Unit at Cranfield; no reports to say if it was there to test or demonstrate BLEU landings, and also that day yet another Qantas crew training exercise with VH-EBJ. How much easier, safer, cheaper  it is 50 years on with simulators. Recently registered DC-7CF G-AVXH of Trans Meridian was practising ILS approaches and overshoots on 12th and European demonstrator Cessna 411 N410SL arrived from Speke on the 9th. The latter also visited LTN a few days beforehand and also there on 6th was CV-640 conversion PH-CGD of Martinair. A rarity was Cessna 337A 5H-MNL en route Cranfield to LHR (5) and the month ended with King Air HB-GCW and another Autair Bell 47 LN-ORO. However, the highlight was HM The Queen arriving from Malta aboard Trident G-ARPX – I’d have loved to see that stagger into the air off LTN’s, then, rather short runway. Northolt saw another member of royalty when Prince Bernhardt arrived F27 PH-PBF, accompanied by C-54A KX-1 (OT-CWU). Not to be outdone, LHR saw the President of Turkey arrive in DC-9 TC-JAA (7). Other 1st visits this month were Pan Am 707s N452PA, N453PA, Qantas 707s VH-EBW, EBX, Airlift CL-44D N604SA, N605SA, plus DC-9s LN-RLS of SAS and HB-IFF of Swissair.  2 JetStar graced LHRs tarmac, N1230R(1) and N871D(3) with Jet Commander N344PS on 24th for a week’s stay. Aeroflot An 12 SSSR-11031 arrived 10th with a spare engine for a stranded Tu104.

November 1967 saw a remarkable change in emphasis amongst newly registered types in the UK, and whilst another 8 PA-28s (AVYL-AVYT) appeared for CSE at Kidlington, and 2 Cessna FR172 Rockets (AVYI/J) for Northair, there were two new Stansted bound HS748’s for the Board of Trade (AVXI/J), plus Hawker Siddeley registered  a mixture of 4 new 125’s, 2 as DH.125 srs  3A/R (AVXM/N) and 2 as HS 125 Srs 3B (AVXK/L).  G-AVXO/U were 6 very early production Islanders and locally based Channel Airways registered their 5 Tridents (AVYA/E) that were on order. Add a Terrier conversion to Beagle and another Condor from Rollason and it was a brilliant mix of new British manufactured registrations.

There were a few overseas deliveries of UK manufactured airframes, with HS 748s PP-VDN to Varig (3), PI-C1016 to PAL (20).  Islander production was building up as evidenced by the batch registered this month, and G-AVUB was delivered to a local buyer at Stapleford on 10th which was rather less exotic than G-AVUC to the Bahamas. However, VUC  was never registered there, became N671JA with Jonas, then to Colonial AW; after 2 re-registrations in the US, a short stint in Mexico it was written off in Canada less than 9 years after initial delivery. As for G-AVUB, it was sold just 6 weeks after delivery to a Mr Frogley to Rolls Royce, then after 6 years to Canada, and 11 years later to the warmer climes of Fiji where it flew as DQ-FEO until being W/O in 1973.

Also this month, Beagle delivered 2 B206s to the RFDS VH-FDA/B, but the US was now dominating new orders for GA and airliners, with TWA announcing orders for 37 additional Boeings 747 (10), 707 (14) B727 (13), plus options on two 2707 SST.  From the same maker Northwest ordered 18 x 727. Eastern was loyal to McDonnell Douglas with 2 x DC-8-63, 5 DC-8-61, 12 DC-9-30. Even BOAC received government approval to order 5 more 707s. Also in Nov 67 the DC-9-40 made its maiden flight with SAS to be the first user.

RAF 48 Sqdn continued its re-equipment of Hercules C1s, their UK deliveries via Teversham being noted in previous “nostalgia” articles, and in November it commenced its move from Colerne to Changi, Singapore where it replaced the unit’s previous Hastings. Closer to home, on 1st  GHQ Bomber Command No 3 Group at Mildenhall was merged with No. 1 Group at Bawtry; this is a step towards the creation of Strike Command from Bomber and fighter Commands.  No.1 Group now comprises all of the RAF’s Vulcans, Marham’s Victor tankers and Wittering’s Blue Steel equipped Victors. Sadly the Defence cuts began to bite this month with actions announced on 22nd to save £55 mio with the largest being the decision not to re-commission HMS Victorious and accordingly to cut the Buccaneer S2 order by 8 aircraft. The RAF’s order for 15 CH-47 Chinook was cancelled and the plans to develop an airbase on the Indian Ocean island of Aldabra were abandoned. Overseas, perhaps rather indicative of our closest neighbours sense of loyalty, France, which had previously favoured Israel with defence sales such as 50 Mirage 5s and 16 Mirage IIIEs, turned 180 degrees when it saw the words “oil” and “exports” and decided it now liked Iraq and Syria and in return for oil rights would now favour those states.

In SE Asia the shipyards of Haiphong were attacked by US aircraft for the first time, and immense heroism was demonstrated 8th when, shot down by Viet Cong ground fire in an HH-3E helicopter and badly burned during a rescue mission southeast of Khe Sanh, South Vietnam, U.S. Air Force Captain Gerald O. Young deliberately draws attention to himself. He then evades the enemy on the ground for hours to lead enemy forces away from other Americans on the ground and additional helicopters coming to rescue them. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions. Back in the US a North American X-15 on a high altitude flight enters a non-recoverable spin at over Mach 5 and breaks up with the aircraft still exceeding Mach 4. USAF Major Michael J Adams is killed, but it surprising to note that this was only fatality in the lifetime of this high risk programme.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS!!!!  December 1967

December 1967 and Stansted experienced its usual under-used runways and quiet aprons but the 8th saw the arrival of Jet Commander N619JC, a not an uncommon sight at UK airports, and a week later early production Islander G-AVCN arrived, with sister ship G-ATWU 2 weeks after that. BEA’s Trident 2 G-AVFB was crew training 18th and “The Gripper” probably needed most of the 10,000’ runway! On the 20th a Christmas charter to Budapest saw Martinair DC-6 PH-MAM come in from Schipol but there was nothing else reported for the month!  LTN was far busier with biz twins JetStream G-ATXH (4), Dove OO-WIP and Baron OY-DPM (5), and another Baron F-BJGL on 21st.  Star arrival was arguable B-25 N6578D 15th en route to Bovingdon for filming, and on 27th 5X-UVH Britannia of African Safari Airways was noted, ex Globe Air HB-ITC. At SEN Carvair EC-BMI of Spantax arrived 3rd for checks, and Apache OO-APH diverted in from LGW. The year ended with Callair SE-EWA clearing customs en route to Shackleton Avtn at Sywell.  First timers at LHR included DC-8s JA-8019 of JAL (2) and Swissair HB-IDE (22). Three new B707s were Qantas VH-EAA (9) and Pan Am’s N457PA and N453PA 22nd and 23rd respectively. Ex Pan Am DC-6B SU-ANP of United Arab Airlines was noted 6th and Hercules 9J-REZ collected BAC 111 spares 14th. Few biz reported other than N98G CV-580 of Gulf Oil (3).

The UK register was seasonally quiet with no new Pipers or Cessnas registered, but Rollason registered another Condor G-AVEI and Beagle registered 4 very early production Pups G-AVZM-P, with G-AVZI Bolkow Junior rounding off the newly manufactured fixed wing types. Two new Jet Rangers G-AVZG/H and used examples of the Bell 47 (G-AVZF) and Hughes 300 (G-AVXC) were the sum of the rotorcraft registered.  On the UK assembly side 3 BAC -111 deliveries were made this month, all via Prestwick, N1123J to Mohawk and PP-SRT/U to VASP. Also via Prestwick was DH125 CF-QNS. HS748 production included HS-THD/E/F to Thai Airways and PP-VDO, CC-CEF and RP-C1018 all doing ILS runs at Ringway during the month. Islanders were now flowing off the Bembridge line including I-TRAM, N672JA, N681VK, TR-LNF/G, all one-time G- registered for their test flights. Twyford Moors (Helicopters) announced it was to establish manufacture in the UK of the Enstrom F.28A, with an initial batch of 10 priced at £12,500 each.

The military scene was buoyant with the RAF and French AF ordering between them 400 Jaguars with 4 prototypes planned to be flying as early as 1968; this order was clearly “on its way” well before the official announcement.  Air Pictorial summarised the  announcement and stated the Jaguar would not only replace the F-84, F-100 and Mystere IV of the FAF but also, and very oddly, the Gnat and Hunter trainers in RAF service. There was also much publicity at the USAF ordering 11 JetStream Mk 3M (at a total cost of £2.4 million).  On the downside the UK government blocked the sale of more Buccaneers to South Africa, along with a potential order for 12 Nimrods, plus HS125, HS748 and Bloodhound missiles in total worth in excess of £100m, some 25 times larger than the USAF order. Just creeping over into 1968’s calendar, the final 4 Hastings  of 24 Sqdn retired on 5th January after nearly 30 years from entering RAF service in the transport role. 18 Sqdn equipped with Wessex HC.2 relocated from Gutersloh to the now long-closed Acklington.  December 1967 also saw the start of dismantling the V-Bomber force as the Polaris equipped submarine fleet began to assume the mantle of the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

Overseas the Indian AF announced the long overdue withdrawal from service of their B-24 Liberators. A new type entered active service with the USN, the A-7A Corsair, which saw its first combat mission on the 4th operating over Vietnam from the carrier USS Ranger (CVA-61).

1967 witnessed many aircraft types recording their first flights, and these included Cessna O-2 and Taylor Titch in January, SAAB Viggen and Dornier 31 (February), Beriev 30 (March), Fokker 28 in May, MiG 23 (June), JetStream (August), BAC Strikemaster (October), and Mirage G (November). However, April arguably witnessed the most important 1st flight of the year – or even the decade – when on 9th the first of nearly 10,000 (9,716 built as at Sept 17) Boeing 737 took to the air. Others that month were the Gazelle prototype, the Beagle Pup and Rollason Beta.

Entry into service this year included the Cessna O-2 just 2 months after its first flight, Beech U-21 (May), Bell AH-IG Cobra (June), Tu 134 with Aeroflot (August), Il-62  also with Aeroflot plus Bell UH-1H, Baron 56 and Hansa Jet (all September), and the BAC 111-500 in November. Possibly the most important entry into service was on 18th July when the F-111 joined the USAF’s 448 TFS as it was the first ever variable geometry wing aircraft to enter service (I exclude the wing warping of the 1900’s!), also the first aircraft equipped with terrain–following radar, and the first aircraft designed with the capability to score direct hits on a target in zero visibility.

1967 was, indeed, a momentous and notable year and a fitting one for our branch to be founded. Stansted may have been a rather sleepy and under developed airfield but the plans for massive developments – some, like the 2nd runway, have still not started let alone completed –  were announced this year and that must have been very exciting to the local enthusiasts. On the broader front the face of UK General Aviation was changing rapidly as foreign – mainly US – singles flooded the Register replacing many of the rather tired post WW II RAF cast-off Proctors, Austers  and Tiger Moths, and the emergence of bizjets and sleek twin props taking over from Ansons, Geminis and Doves. The airline scene was vibrant and air travel was expanding enormously, as witnessed by the booming order books held by Boeing and Douglas, and the smaller but still impressive orders written by Sud, Hawker-Siddeley, Fokker and even Sud/BAC for the Concorde albeit most of these were never delivered. Military aircraft of immediate post-war vintage (and often based on pre war or wartime design concepts) were being retired off rapidly and the demands of Vietnam War in Asia and the Cold War in Europe were leading to huge and rapid developments in military technology. However, in the UK it was  still the politicians who were dictating how the aircraft industry should progress, deciding what aircraft BOAC and BEA were to order, and controlling a tight (and reducing) budget for the military.

So that is the last of my monthly potted commentaries of selected local and international aviation related events that took place 50 years ago when our branch was founded. I have thoroughly enjoyed the research – and learned a lot from it – and hopefully some of you will have found these Nostalgia columns of interest.