Contributed by: Trevor STUBBERFIELD (52A)
On the 10th of May 1956 I stood on the tarmac at Blackbushe Airport, peering into the darkness at the
aircraft in which I was to take my very first flight. Already nervous, the sight of the Eagle
Aviation Vickers Viking did nothing to dispel my fears. This was to take me in a series of long
hops to my posting with 10th. Armoured Division in
Loaded, with the door shut and the passengers strapped
in, the engines fired up and we lurched to the start of the runway where the
engines were run up, one at a time to maximum revs. The fact that one engine needed three
attempts before it reached peak revs didn't do my confidence a lot of good,
especially as the plane seemed ready to fall apart with the vibration.
Finally the pilot was happy, both engines were balanced, full power applied,
brakes released and we lumbered down the track for what seemed a very long
time before the tail came up and we lurched into the air. The noise as we climbed was absolutely
deafening and remember, this was a civil airliner for which civilian travellers would pay good money for a flight
ticket. Perhaps it was to cover the
cost of the obligatory boiled sweet to ease the pressure on the ears.
As we started the descent to our first stop,
The next hop was to
After some 14 hours of travelling we landed at Idris and I all but got on my knees and kissed the
ground. That's where the Pope got his
ground hugging habit from. When I
reached my unit I was begging for food, only to be told "You've just
missed breakfast, have to wait for dinner now." Luckily one of the lads took me under his
wing and managed to lay some sandwiches on before I collapsed with
My first flight memories have stayed with me and I have
to confess to still being a nervous flier, something only to be undertaken
under extreme pressure from my manager.
Vickers Viking of Eagle
Derived from the Wellington Bomber, 163 Vikings were
built from 1945 to 1949. Of the 163,
there were 57 major crashes in which the plane was destroyed. 4 of these incidents were in the colours of Eagle Aviation and one in Cunard Eagle colours. On the 6th of April 1948 a Viking took to the air as
the first jet powered airliner after it had been fitted with two Rolls Royce
On the 1st of May 1957 an Eagle
Aviation Vickers Viking G-AJBO took off from Blackbushe, bound for
On Wednesday 19th of October 2011 a memorial dedicated
to the 34 people who lost their lives in this crash was unveiled on the
control tower of Blackbushe airport. The link below leads to a video that was
made of the ceremony.
On Wednesday 19th of October 2011 this Memorial
Plaque was unveiled at Blackbushe.
On the 29th May 1957 my wife stood on the tarmac at Blackbushe, ready to fly to
First Published: 1st June 2006.
Latest Update|: 1st January 2015.