Fellow Oldies – Any Fascinating Travel Stories from Aviation's Golden AgeBack to Forum
My most vivid memories were the QF/BA/LH flights LHR/FRA to SYD back in the 70’s and 80’s…
I wonder how many travellers today realise that several European carriers operated to Australia at that time.
Today’s there’s only our British Airways but back then, besides Lufthansa and BOAC, there was Alitalia, KLM, Olympic and JAT.
Likewise some of the charter airlines such as Britannia and Airtours, who did LGW-SYD, stopping in SIN (I think!)
One of the UK charter airlines used to stop at Batam ( the Indonesian island just off Singapore ). I believe the landing fees and accomodation for the crew were significantly cheaper…
1 user thanked author for this post.26 Jan 2020
Some of my treasured memories:
Being allowed on the flight deck of a CX aircraft as it approached Gatwick and being talked through the approach by the crew
Asking for a non-smoking seat on a Chinese airline at check-in. The check-in agent solemnly took back my boarding pass, rooted around in her drawer for a rubber stamp, stamped it “Non-smoking seat” and handed it back, all without a word. Yay – my very own no-smoking zone!
Landing in a small island in the Philippines where the runway (a grass strip) went up a hill, at the top of which the pilot smartly turned it round, came to a stop and told us all to get out. We then had to wait in a grass hut until they unloaded the bags and escorted us down to the beach for the next leg of our journey, which involved us (and we had no warning of this, mind) wading out through the surf (in our travel clothes) and clambering aboard an outrigger. The water was waist-deep, we were completely unprepared for this, and the Memsahib was several months pregnant and couldn’t bend in the middle. The sight of several Filipinos desperately trying to haul her aboard – some pulling from above, others pushing from below – was priceless, although she herself wasn’t terribly amused. Needless to say on the return trip we were a bit more prepared, but the take-off was interesting as the little plane hurtled down the hill towards the beach. No chance of recovery or a go-around if anything went wrong!
Another one which I didn’t experience myself, but my parents did and told me about. It was on, if I recall correctly, the Air Ferry, on which they took their Morris Minor across the Channel!27 Jan 2020
As a small child my dad took me for a day trip to Le Touquet from Gatwick on British Caledonian. However, as the return flight was full we ended up flying on the British Air Ferries Carvair to Southend…………..27 Jan 2020
As a young boy growing up, my next door neighbour’s Dad was a Captain with BOAC.
He would take as to the hangars at Heathrow for birthday treats. Having driven through a gate and across the apron, he would park up and we would spend a happy afternoon playing in the cockpits of 707s and VC10s.
That was nearly 60 years ago; not sure it could happen today!!27 Jan 2020
RedBaron, Aeroflot in the 1980s were a bit like the No.7 bus. I was on a flight from Moscow that went via Tashkent, Calcutta (as it still was then, I think), Bangkok and KL to Singapore. Bananas as catering for the final two legs.28 Jan 2020
Quick story about Aeroflot catering in the 70s.
I was invited by Aeroflot to go on a travel trade educational to Moscow. I squeezed in a trip to Tashkent and Samarkand as well but that’s irrelevant other than that I deliberately missed the flight back to London in order to do so.
We flew out in Misery class, on an IL-62 (VC10-ski). Meals in brown cardboard boxes thrown at you by female (I think they were!) cabin crew who doubled up in function as they also push-started the aircraft and probably lifted the engines into place.
Flew back on the 86 (Boeing 707-ski) in First class. The only difference was a tatty piece of material taped to the sides of the cabin, separating the few rows of F sears from Misery. When it came to meal service though, the contents of the cardboard boxes were upturned onto cheap china plates.
I was reminded of this type of service last year when I wrote a TripAdvisor review of an establishment we visited in Jersey :
The waitress must have attended the Aeroflot charm school, so unsmiling was she. Efficient and quick at taking orders, she could not be faulted on that score. We could have done with our wine being poured rather than brusquely projected into the glasses, something she did with skill and only spilling a few drops.28 Jan 2020
I remember a schoolfriend telling me this, so it must have been in the 60s. He and his parents were flying out of LHR on a BOAC flight and as they taxied out, there was a PanAm 707 which had run off the runway into the mud and was being towed out. As they passed it, the Captain’s PA said :
” … ladies and gentlemen, those of you on the right hand side of the aircraft will be able to see the world’s most experienced airline having another experience.”29 Jan 2020
Sadly never ever flown on Pan Am or Aeroflot , both companies epitomizing the age of John Le Carre and the intrigue associated .
Fascinating to read through the stories and recalling memories linked to airlines that no longer exist, in some cases , sadly no longer exist.
BCal – Unaccompanied minor ( Tag hanging around my neck) GLA – AMS via NCL, and for some reason having to disembark at NCL . Then looked after by my CP family homeward bound to YVR.
Britannia – First boys holiday to Corfu and discovering Tequila Slammers and topless women !
Airtours – First holiday with first real girlfriend. Relationship lasted 7 years despite the fact she wanted us to travel to Portugal in matching garish shell suits . and although we departed from GLA, I didn’t succumb to her request!!
Ansett 727 SYD – MEL – First family holiday to Australia
BEA Vanguards – Huge windows with, if my memory serves me well, red painted wings ? Not forgetting Turnhouse and its large scales at, check-in .
Air Anglia F27’s – AMS – EDI thus avoiding the need to fly to GLA or go via LHR. But as a child being totally fascinated by the ability to watch the landing gear in action.
Sticking in the “golden Age” and going way back , and probably the moment I fell in love with planes and flying was vaguely (very) remembering flying on EAA’s VC10’s . Oddly I can’t really remember detail, but I went into the pub toilets in the Waverley and the smell was like a light switch of memories being turned on . I was back in that cabin !!
And by smell I mean the air fresher!!
Out with the “Golden age” I could easily rattle of a dozen or so other airlines that I’ve got memories off , now defunct, that are now no longer around. Of which only Wardair, Canadian and Air2000 would I welcome back to the skies.29 Jan 2020
My first flight was from Sydney to San Francisco in 1949 on BCPA in a DC6, I think. We landed at Fiji, Canton Island and Honolulu for refueling and went to bed in full-length bunks, in nightwear! The next was from Sydney to Cairo in 1953 when we had a scheduled overnight stop (in Raffles Hotel) at BOAC expense! I think that might have been a Stratocruiser.30 Jan 2020
I can remember small airports in southern Africa were you walked down the steps of the aircraft, your luggage, if any, was on the tarmac, and you walked across to your waiting car. Sometimes there was a porter to carry your luggage for you.
Security? Passport control? Customs?
This a marvellous thread. Thank you Sami30 Jan 2020
Another one which I didn’t experience myself, but my parents did and told me about. It was on, if I recall correctly, the Air Ferry, on which they took their Morris Minor across the Channel!
I remember that flight! In fact it was my first ever flight, over 50 years ago, and we took the car to Ostend for a family holiday. Very expensive and of course I had no idea at the time that such flights were even then rare and would soon stop altogether.30 Jan 2020
About 30 years ago I flew Hong Kong to Rome on Alitalia. Catering was very Italian, and delicious – huge steaming dishes of pasta which they brought round on a trolley and served you from onto your plate. And second helpings if you wanted them. Still don’t know how they cooked/heated the dishes – they were clearly too large for today’s mini-ovens.30 Jan 2020
I also spent some time in Tehran (and other parts of Iran) in 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975. I agree – Tehran, and Iran, were vastly different then.
Late to the party here, but my family lived in Tehran, as part of the British Embassy, in that era.
There was an amazing incident on one of the very early BOAC (as then was) 747 flights to Iran. The aircraft landed and (because there were no jetways for 747s at Mehrabad Airport then) the cabin crew opened the doors and waited for the wheeled steps to be place din position.
For reasons nobody will ever know, a passenger collected his belongings, left his seat, and walked straight past the cabin crew (who had their backs to the inside of the aircraft as they watched out for the steps)…..
….into the void. And that was the end of him.
There was then a minor diplomatic wrangle, in which the embassy was of course involved, over the post-mortem. If you die on a British ship or aircraft, then you die (for legal purposes) on British soil, and so the body should go back to the UK for the PM.
However, the Iranians argued (correctly, I think, and anyway the embassy accepted the point) was that the last breath he took was as he slammed into Iranian concrete after a fall of some 30 feet. So the PM was done in Tehran.30 Jan 2020