2010 Articles

OCT 26 2010
Ostend and Dinard Time-Machine

Starting with Ostend in Belgium, this airport was always home to interesting old jets that mostly plied their trade down to Africa and often with volatile cargo onboard. I knew a pilot that flew from here at this time and he always told us real interesting stories about operations down to that continent and how sometimes the cargo on the manifest didn't actually match what was onboard.

In September 1991 I was flying Cessna 152 G-BNSW from Guernsey to Seppe in Holland for their annual fly-in. I did a round-about route as I was building hours for my commercial licence and elected to go via Ostend and Amsterdam-Schiphol, which was a real fun airport to land at. Ostend was a 3 hour 15 minute flight, mostly at 1000 feet and, as I had access airside, I thought I may as well shoot the aircraft on the ramp while I was there clearing customs and having a drink.

There were two TAROM Boeing 707s in what was then their new colour scheme. Both used to carry passengers and were often seen at Heathrow but had been relegated to the freighter role. Not long after I saw these they were both sold to Air Afrique in the Ivory Coast and both ended their days with that airline in accidents. YR-ABM lasted until 1993 when it crash landed short of the runway at its base in Abidjan, and YR-ABN made it until 1995 when it overran the runway after landing at N'Djamena in Chad. Another 707 belonged to EAS (Executive Airline Services) Cargo Airlines and was based in Lagos, Nigeria, and I took the opportunity to get a shot with my little Cessna 152 in the frame. This aircraft changed hands many times after being sighted here, all with African airlines and ended its days being broken up at Shannon Airport in 2003.

The immaculate looking Flash Airlines DC-8-55F served them well between 1988 and 1993, although it was on the ground for two of those years after being damaged. It was later sold to MK Airlines who, until recently, still flew to Europe until encountering financial difficulties which ultimately led to the company being liquidated, and this airframe was another casualty in Africa as it crashed while landing at Port Hartcourt, Nigeria in 1996. The other large aircraft on the ramp was a nice looking Boeing 727-46 registered in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This belonged to Air Charter Services (ACS) but at the time was still untitled when I saw it. This aircraft soldiered on until 1997 when it was scrapped and broken-up at Kinshasa, Zaire.

An earlier visit to Ostend in 1983 was on my way to the annual airshow at Koksijde. That particular day the ramp was pretty quiet but included a couple of aircraft from Excelair with green cheat-lines and both untitled. These aircraft ended their days in Belgium being broken up at Brussels. The other jet on the ramp was Boeing 707 G-AXXZ which started life with BOAC and transferred to British Airways after the BOAC/BEA merger. After it served its useful life as a BA freighter it transited Ostend on its way to new owner West Coast Airlines in Ghana as 9G-ADB. She didn't stay with West Coast for long and was sold to the Government of Benin, yet another African country, and, as with so many old airliners in this region, came to grief when it was written-off after being burnt-out following an aborted take-off from Sebha in Libya.

A couple of interesting propliners included Herald G-ATIG operated by Janus Airways who later became Euroair. This particular aircraft was best known in my day when it flew the daily Brymon Airways service into Heathrow from Plymouth before the days of the DASH-7/8 era. VT-29A (CV-240) was scrapped here in the same year I shot it and I'm not sure why it was flown to Europe or why whatever it was destined for failed. The last photo from Ostend is of Viscount 9Q-CAH and was taken in 1985. This aircraft was originally bought by Air France but also served with Alidair, Dan Air and Janus as G-ARIR. It was sold to 3MAS, also known as MMM Aviation, seen here in a pseudo BAF scheme, but never made it beyond Ostend and was eventually scrapped in 1988.

Dinard in France was an airfield that I often flew to from Guernsey for a cup of coffee. It was one of our nearest French airfields and, with a permanent customs presence, we could simply file a flight plan and arrive without prior permission. There was always very interesting aircraft at this Touraine Air Transport (TAT) maintenance base but I usually didn't take photos here as even though we were airside most of the aircraft were on the opposite side of the runway at the TAT base, which I think is now run by Sabena.

Starting off in 1991 one of the few flying SE210 Caravelles was seen here when operated by Aero France International. This aircraft was later sold and flown to Colombia in 1994 but was damaged when it performed a hard landing on a dry lake bed in Mexico while running cocaine. It was operating with fake registration HK-4029X and when police caught up with the aircraft they cut-off the wings and destroyed the airframe. Such a sad end to a classic type.

Fast forward to 1992 and I found not one but two Nord N.2501 Noratlas aircraft parked here for maintenance. I was used to seeing the ex-French Air Force Noratlases parked up at Caen but to see a pair that were actually in use was great, and both were exotic air force owned. 9XR-GY was operated by the Rwandan Air Force and TN236 by the Congolese Air Force, which is the Air Force of the Congo Republic and isn't to be confused with the separate country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is its neighbour. Complicated? Yes! It is not known if TN236 is still active but it shows on the inventory of the air force currently.

Air Dakota C-47B F-GIDK is still active as F-AZOX and flying the airshow circuit. It makes quite a change to find an old aircraft that I've shot that's still around! Finally a bunch of F-27s stored here included three from Flanders Airlines - two were broken-up and one permanently withdrawn from use. The Air Guadeloupe example was also killed by the axe man most probably at Dinard.

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2010-11-21 - nick sills
How nice to see the Janus Airways Herald. I flew on the type from Lydd airport to Ostend in the mid-'80s as part of a trip to Austria. The whole trip cost 149! That was including ferries back and coach transfer!!!! How times have changed...

Kind regards, Nick.

2010-10-26 - Olly
Loving the Dinard pics! Feel like I'm back at school and visiting at a weekend. I remember seeing that Air Guadeloupe F27 for the first time (F-OGJB if remember correctly) and thinking I had a scoop, but it ended up staying there for YEARS!

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