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News and Articles

The Story of the DC9

From 104 feet to 152 feet, back to 124 feet and all points in between, the Douglas DC-9 and its derivatives the McDonnell -Douglas MD-80/90 series and Boeing 717 was a very flexible design, even allegedly lending itself for use by the Chinese in developing their Comac ARJ21 airliner. With its long range DC-8 airliner in production Douglas took a look at the short to medium haul... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 26 August 2021


Following the IWM’s recommendation that visitors wear masks indoors where possible, especially in crowded areas and enclosed spaces. Duxford Aviation Society (DAS) has decided that visitors boarding any DAS airliner must wear face coverings unless exempt.      more >

By Steve Jeal, 3 August 2021

Props Over the Water

Props Over the Water

Before the Second World War if you wanted to fly on a scheduled flight across the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans it would have been on a flying boat, after the war all that changed. With the availability of many new airfields with hard runways designed for long range bombers the way was now clear for land planes to replace the existing flying boat services. With all of Europe having spent... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 27 July 2021

The Overnighters

Up until the early 1970s if you wanted to send a parcel you would have taken it to the Post Office who would send it by van to a local sorting office and then another van, train or maybe by plane to the destination sorting office, from there into the postman’s bag and eventually to its destination. Here in the UK this worked fine if a little slowly, it was indeed possible for... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 27 June 2021

Two’s company but three is certainly not a crowd.

Those of you who follow our Facebook page may well remember a recent run of posts covering three-engine jets such as the Trident, DC-10, Tristar and Boeing 727. This engine arrangement was nothing new as we shall see in this article about some early piston engine tri-motor aircraft. The first tri-motor plane built would appear to be the Batson Air Yacht. Designed to cross the... more >

By Bob Wright, 25 May 2021

The Jetliner Race

The jetliner race

Ask any 1950s schoolboy, or anyone interested in aviation history or travel what the first jet airliner was and they will correctly tell you the de Havilland Comet. Ask them what the second one to fly was and you would no doubt get varied answers such as the Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8, the Sud Aviation Caravelle or maybe a long shot the Convair Cv-880. Almost nobody would correctly say... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 29 April 2021

Boeing’s best selling baby

  From its entry into airline service with Lufthansa in February 1968 to the present day, you could visit any airport around the world and very likely see an example of Boeing’s best selling jet. With nearly 11,000 built, 400 waiting to be delivered and orders for many more this aeroplane is an icon of the airliner world. This baby Boeing is of course the Boeing 737 series. Back... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 26 March 2021

The Spannermen

With the rise of many small independent airlines in the 1950s and 60s, there was a demand for companies to carry out major engineering work and checks for those airlines who did not have a dedicated engineering department but only a few qualified guys to cover their day to day work. Companies such as Fields, Marshalls, Airwork and the subject of this article Aviation Traders Engineering... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 26 February 2021

Felling of the giants

For over 50 years the travelling public have been used to flying on giant airliners. Sadly this experience is slowly coming to an end with manufacturers Boeing and Airbus both ending production of their Jumbo -sized jets. The Boeing 747 first took to the skies in 1969 entering service a year later. Nearly 1600 of these ground-breaking jumbos will have been produced when the last... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 27 January 2021

A Dutch Master


Back in the 1950s many manufacturers were looking hungrily at the DC-3 replacement market. So many examples of the Douglas design were in operation around the world it was generally thought there would be huge profits to be made in providing their replacement. As it happened, many of these old Douglas planes just flew on and on. Here in the UK Handley Page... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 30 November 2020

The history of sponsored air races


For many years the Daily Mail had been the leading newspaper when it came to offering prizes for imaginative air races. This started in 1909 with a prize of £1,000 (£52,000 in today’s money) for the first person to cross the English Channel in an aeroplane, it was won by Louis Bleriot. Fifty years later in 1959, the paper sponsored another air race to commemorate... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 30 November 2020

Pan Am...a lost American icon

Back in the 1960s there were many large airlines in the United States; TWA, Eastern, Braniff, Northwest Orient and Western to name just a few. But the one that stood out on the international air routes was Pan American World Airlines or as it was better known Pan Am. Sadly, after failures and takeovers, only three major legacy airlines are left in the USA; American, Delta and United.... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 6 November 2020

From Boxkite to Concorde

The south of England used to be known for aircraft manufacturing. Just think Brooklands/ Vickers, Kingston/Hawker, Hatfield/de Havilland, Radlett/Handley Page, Luton/Percival, Reading/Miles, Shoreham/Beagle, Christchurch/ Airspeed, Brockworth /Gloster, Yeovil/Westland and the subject of this story, Filton/Bristol. All bar Westland are no longer with us. All the factories and in most... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 28 September 2020

The sleeping princesses

The sleeping princesses   As a young boy, when we went on our ‘foreign’ holidays across the sea to the Isle of Wight, I always noticed the huge mummies on the dockside. My dad, who knew about these things, told me they were cocooned Princesses. For years I thought they were something from the Egyptian pyramids until he explained they were actually flying boats.... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 28 September 2020

The British Airliner Collection Aviation History No 3 Avro York G-ANTK

Troop carrier, freight mover, airliner and flying office, Roy Chadwick’s ingenious adaptation of the Lancaster bomber proved itself in war and peace. G-ANTK, now based at IWM Duxford, served in the Berlin Airlift and carried the 100,000th ton of supplies into Berlin. © British Airliner Collection Archive 2020 Produced with the help of Lottery Funding. Our thanks to British... more >

By Steve Jeal, 23 September 2020

Britten Norman BN2 – A British Success Story


Britten Norman BN2 - a British success story At 6:45 am on 11 September 1970 the prototype BN Trislander made its first flight. To commemorate this event we reflect on the history of the company that built it and the story behind how and why the aircraft was developed. Let’s begin the Britten-Norman story with a short quiz Which British commercial aircraft has had the... more >

By Bob Wright, 28 August 2020

Two Caledonians and a BCal

Two Caledonians and a BCal With all three airlines affectionately known in the trade as Callys, Caledonian Airways had two lives as Caledonian and one as the parent company of British Caledonian, although it must be said the last Caledonian was a completely different animal to its predecessors, sharing just the name. Here is a brief history of these three airlines. The original... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 28 August 2020

The British Airliner Collection Aviation History No.2 de Havilland DDH106 Comet 4 G-APDB


The world’s first passenger jet, complete with that characteristic jet whistle, triumphed over the tragic crashes of the 1950s to become the first non-stop, jet airliner across the Atlantic in 1958. Comet 4 G-APDB, now based at IWM Duxford, made the historic Eastbound record-breaking flight on 4 October 1958. Click below to view the video.  more >

By Steve Jeal, 21 August 2020

The British Airliner Collection Restoration history No1 YORK G ANTK


Duxford Aviation Society’s workshop team got to work on York MW 232/G-ANTK in 1986. 20 years later this Berlin Airlift veteran went on display at IWM Duxford. This video is a tribute to the dedication of a skilled team. The aircraft is currently showing a reconstruction of a part-loaded Airlift consignment.    more >

By Steve Jeal, 18 August 2020

Clear?…Contact !

Engine start

Clear?…Contact ! These very words were most likely heard on the beach at Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on 17 December 1903, when Wilbur started the engine for his brother Orville piloting their Wright Flyer prior to making man’s first powered flight in an aeroplane. Starting an aero engine has come on a bit since then but the principle remains the... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 26 July 2020

From 16 to 20,000 gallons! The Fire Bomber story


We are lucky here in the UK in that despite some large forest and heath fires now and again we do not see the size of problems encountered every year by many other countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and parts of Europe. Our only view of Fire Bombers or Air Tankers as some countries call them is through the media. It may surprise you to know that two types of UK aeroplanes... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 26 July 2020

NEW on our YouTube channel. British Airliner Collection history No.1 Ambassador

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By Steve Jeal, 7 July 2020

The British feeder liner


Variously known as the Avro 748, Hawker Siddeley 748, Hindustan 748, BAe 748 or just Hawkers she was always lovingly known to all as ‘the Budgie’. Designed as a DC-3 replacement, 381 of these versatile aeroplanes had been built in the UK and India when production finally stopped at the end of 1988.  Designed back in the late 1950s by A V Roe at Woodford... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 26 June 2020

Short Brothers…the forgotten trailblazers

Short Brothers

Ask any man in the street to name a famous UK aircraft manufacturer and you will hear Vickers, de Havilland, Avro or Handley Page mentioned. You would be very unlikely to hear the name Shorts. However, this company was making balloons in 1897, became Short Brothers in 1908 and continued in the aviation business achieving many firsts until bought by Bombardier in 1989. In 1897... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 26 June 2020

New on BAC YouTube Channel - Concorde 101 - Nose lowering behind the scenes

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By Steve Jeal, 6 June 2020

707…the start of a dynasty

Boeing 707

707…the start of a dynasty   The de Havilland Comet was the world’s first jet airliner. The de Havilland Comet 4 was also the world’s first jet airliner to carry fare-paying passengers across the Atlantic. But the de Havilland Comet was not the world’s first jet airliner to become a commercial success. That was the     ... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 18 May 2020

Travelling to Jersey, a history


Let’s go...to Jersey!   From the 1950s to the 1980s the British public who had the wherewithal to fly had two destinations at the top of their list. One was the Dutch bulb fields, with a stream of charter flights operating each year out of Southend airport and the other was the Channel Island of Jersey. With that heady mix of English/French culture this was going abroad... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 18 May 2020

Caring for a Grand old lady


Caring for a Grand old lady Keith Bradshaw tells the story of how the Duxford Aviation Society are maintaining Vickers V701 Viscount G-ALWF, the world’s oldest Viscount and most likely the world’s oldest turboprop in existence today. It was a summer’s day in 1948 when Vickers’ test pilots Mutt Summers and Jock Bryce pulled back on the stick of the first... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 23 April 2020

The magic moving map


On visiting our Trident many people comment on the moving map display asking if it’s a kind of Sat Nav. The system on the Trident was designed long before GPS was available and indeed was one of the first stand alone navigation systems not requiring any ground stations or satellites to operate. This is how it all works. Maurice Gatsonides.  There’s a name you... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 23 April 2020

200 over and out

200 over and out Regular readers among you will remember a series of articles about my quest to fly in as many different types of plane as possible. This started in 1962 as an eight year old having his first ever flight, in an Auster from North Denes near Great Yarmouth. For one reason or another the final article wasn’t published so here it is with the run up to number... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 31 March 2020

One to ten…..the Douglas way !

Douglas Commercial Airliners

Mention the aircraft company Douglas and most people think of the DC-3. There was however much more to Douglas with many military fighters, bombers and transports coming out of their Californian factories. But our story will just cover the ‘DC’ or Douglas Commercial series from the DC-1 to the DC-10. Founded by Donald W Douglas in 1921, the Douglas Aircraft Company... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 31 March 2020

A story of Guppies and Belugas


The last Aero Spacelines Super Guppy SGT, originally built for Airbus, is now the sole flying example of this remarkable breed. Flown by NASA. Seen here at the Wings over Houston air show in 2011 it is still in service today.  Photo Keith Bradshaw Back in the early 1960s John Conroy set up a company called Aero Spacelines to exploit a gap in the aviation market for an outsize... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 4 February 2020

Testing Testing


With the recent Rolls- Royce announcement that they are acquiring an ex Qantas Boeing 747 for use as a flying engine testbed, Keith Bradshaw takes a look back at some of the other aircraft used for engine testing in the past. Although not that commonplace these days due to most “new” engines being developments of older well tried examples, testing a new engine on... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 20 December 2019

2019… a grand year

2019 review

With another year drawing to a close let us take the traditional look back at what’s been happening here at Duxford over the past 12 months. 2019 saw a large number of anniversaries affecting our collection and aviation in general. The big ones were the first flights 50 years ago of Concorde and the Boeing 747. Our BAC 1-11 also saw air under its wings for the first time in... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 6 December 2019

DAS and Dan Air an historic pairing

Dan Air

DAS & DAN Keith Bradshaw takes a look back at the much missed independent airline DAN-AIR and its contribution to the British Airliner Collection. One of the major contributors to the world famous British Airliner Collection was Dan-Air. Unusually for an airline they regarded their history with respect and as historic airliners were retired, instead of going to the... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 18 November 2019

Farewell to Farnborough Airshow


After 70 years the organisers of the Farnborough air show have decreed that from next  year there will no longer be a public flying display at the weekend. The event will finish on the Friday trade day to which the public will be admitted. Keith Bradshaw takes a nostalgic look back at an event that was once regarded as the best air show in the world. Since 1948 early... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 16 September 2019

Comet….grandaddy of the jetliners!

Comet….grandaddy of the jetliners!   Date….27 July 1949, Place….Hatfield England, Crew… John ‘Cats Eyes’ Cunningham, Harold ‘Tubby’ Waters, John Wilson, Frank Reynolds and Tony Fairbrother. Event… Maiden flight of the world’s first jet powered airliner, the de Havilland DH106 Comet 1. This is the story by... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 11 July 2019

60th anniversary of the delivery of our Brit to BOAC


In a year full of anniversaries, Keith Bradshaw highlights the 60th anniversary of the delivery of our Brit to BOAC And rule the Atlantic she did. The Britannia and its CL44 derivative were the only turbo prop aircraft to operate regular passenger flights across the North Atlantic between 1957 and 1964. Only the Britannia made the journey non-stop. The Icelandic airline Loftleidir... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 11 July 2019

Still looking good at 70


Hermes! What does this word mean to you? The Greek god of transport? A Mail order delivery company? A French manufacturer of up-market scarves? Or one of Britain’s first pressurised post war airliners? Well you can guess which one gets the Duxford Aviation Society vote. We have many iconic airliners in the British Airliner Collection but one of the rarest is the world’s... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 11 July 2019

An early DAS acquisition, a de Havilland DH89A Dragon Rapide.

Dragon Rapide

All photos by the author unless noted In 1934 the de Havilland Aircraft Company launched the DH89 Dragon Rapide, based on their previous twin-engine light transport design, the DH84 Dragon. The Dragon Rapide and its military variant, the Dominie, were produced until 1946 by which time 737 examples had been built. The Dragon had itself succeeded the single-engine DH83 Fox Moth... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 3 June 2019

BOAC Its part in the British Airways 100 celebrations

History of BOAC

For many years if you were in some far-off land trying to get home, nearing the end of a hot and dusty trip to the airport, nothing would lift the spirits more than that first glimpse of an aeroplane tail with its iconic Speedbird emblem. After the inevitable battle through passport, customs and security you would finally climb the steps to be greeted by an immaculately dressed stewardess... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 27 April 2019

2019 and a history of BEA

Pics from Keiths article

2019 is an anniversary year par excellence! We have already celebrated 50 years since our BAC 1-11 first flew back in January, swiftly followed by 50 years of Concorde in March. However, between those two important events in February, the anniversary of 50 years since the first flight of the Boeing 747 Jumbo jet passed by, Unlike the two British planes it is still in limited production. In... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 23 March 2019

Concorde from the engineer's seat

Trevor Evans in his office - the engineer's seat in Concorde

2 March 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first flight of a special aircraft known for its speed and luxury, an aircraft that has become unique as a technological, if not commercial triumph of its era. Nearly 50 years ago, on that Sunday in 1969, I was probably gearing myself up to go to school the next day to face the work culminating in my GCE ‘O’ level attempts... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 14 February 2019

Pond Hopping

Alcock and Brown prepare for their historic flight

4 October 2018 sees the 60th anniversary of the first commercial jet airliner flights across the Atlantic. Our Comet G-APDB, here at Duxford, was one of two aircraft that took part in that historic crossing.  It all began when two push-bike mechanics, Orville and Wilbur Wright, flew the first, powered, heavier-than-air machine at Kill Devil Hills near Kittyhawk Beach North Carolina... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 1 October 2018

Repainting the Gate Guard

Hurricane gate guardian at Duxford

Although not one of ours, late last year a new aeroplane appeared on the airliner ramp, a Hawker Hurricane replica. This normally lives atop a pole at the entrance to the public car park here at Duxford. Its owned by the IWM and the weather had taken its toll on the paintwork. Following our Military Vehicle Wing’s success repainting the A34 Comet tank that also sits by the car... more >

By Steve Jeal, 2 August 2018

Duxford Aviation Society at a Duxford Air Show

Fairey Swordfish displaying at Duxford Flying Legends

Many of us will have been to one of Duxford’s superb air shows, but how many have considered what goes on behind the scenes to prepare for such a great day’s enjoyment? Let's take a brief look at DAS involvement in one of these big events. Bear in mind that all this happens three times a year with two-day shows in May, July and September. Several months before... more >

By Keith Bradshaw, 2 August 2018

Happy Birthday Whisky Juliet!

G-APWJ on her 55th birthday

Fifty-five years ago on 29 May 1963, just a normal day for most people at the Handley Page factory at Radlett in Hertfordshire. As they got on with the job of fulfilling the order book for their new turbo- prop, feeder liner, the Handley Page Dart Herald, the sound of an aeroplane taking off from the company runway outside the factory barely raised an eyebrow. However this was no... more >

By Chrissie Eaves-Walton, 29 May 2018

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