The arrival of ZH763 at Newquay Cornwall Airport for preservation in the Classic Air Force hangar, sees the BAC 1-11’s time in UK skies draw to a close, a little under 50 years after it first flew. As well as featuring the aircraft’s arrival earlier today, we delve in to the GAR archives to look back at a few BAC 1-11 operators from times gone by.
At approximately 12.30 today, BAC 1-11 ZH763 touched down for the last time, a landing which signalled the end of the aircraft’s service life in the UK. Just a handful of 1-11s still operate in the United States and should see her achieve a half century of flight, but this was a significant moment for a very British type.
Designed as a short-haul jet airliner, the BAC 1-11 is one of the most iconic British jetliners ever built. Designed to replace the Vickers Viscount turboprop on short-range routes, it first flew on 20 August 1963 and by the time the last example had rolled off the production line nearly 250 had been built. The type served with classic airlines such as BEA, Court Line, Laker Airways and British Eagle and also scored export successes with US carriers such as Braniff and Mohawk.
British Airways retired its last BAC 1-11 in 1998 but a small fleet survived in use with the British military and QinetiQ as trials platforms. The airframe delivered today was built for British Airways as G-BGKE (see image below!) and later joined the MoD’s Defence Research Agency in 1991. It gained the military registration ZH763 and served at Thurleigh, Farnborough and Boscombe Down – the home of British military aircraft evaluation and test flying since 1939 – as a flying laboratory, primarily for radar trials.
“We are honoured and delighted that QinetiQ has chosen the Classic Air Force as the permanent home for Britain’s last 1-11” commented CEO Group Captain Davie Paton OBE RAF (Retd). “This jet is one of the most iconic of all British jetliners and fits our ‘Best of British’ ethos perfectly.”
It is always sad to see a type go out of service, especially one with such a pedigree, but thankfully ZH763 will be very well looked after at her new home. We know that many of you have fond memories of the BAC 1-11 and hope that the rest of the images here go some way in reminding us all of the important part she played in aviation history. Let’s also hope the remaining airframes continue to fly in the USA for a little while yet.
Thanks to Stephen Bridgewater at Classic Air Force for his help in preparing this article and also the delivery / handover imagery.
I can add a little more to your research which I hope will be of interest and perhaps spark memories for others.
It is my understanding from my early days as a fresh faced school leaver settling in to my first job with an airline in 1965, that in fact the first BAC1-11 200s were bought by Freddie Laker.
He put them in to service on scheduled routes with his new fledgling independent British United Airways. BUA was the newly created ‘2nd force’ carrier established to compete with BEA in the early 1960s. It was formed out of a merger of various small independent operators at the time to create a new,independent ‘2nd force’,arising from the then Government’s Strategic Civil Aviation Review (Edwards Report?). It was to operate from the pristine and much vaunted 2nd London airport-London Gatwick with its direct rail links to Central London.
To get the fledgling new carrier up and running it was ‘handed’ licences from the established National carriers in order to hopefully (and successfully)open up competition – something which has continued to this day.
BUA initially had 10 BAC 1-11 200s ( G-ASJA/SJB/SJC etc)and 3 Vickers VC-10s (G-A SIW/SIX/TDJ)Later BAC 1-11’500s’ and variants were added to support the growing expansion into the IT market of the 70’s. Laker himself moved into Tour Operating alongside Horizon Lunn Poly and others to compete against another frontline 1-11 operator Court Line.
The 1-11 200s were used for scheduled routes to Europe (JER/AMS/RTM/GOA.AGP amongst them)and from 1967 for newly acquired Domestic ‘Interjet’ licences to EDI/GLA/BFS. Interestingly, as I recall, of the original 10 pre registrations SJA-SJJ. one was lost pre delivery and so an ‘odd regn’ appeared in the fleet (STJ, I believe from instant recall). To balance up its route structure longhaul routes were awarded to East and Central Africa and controversially(for the time), South America- depriving BOAC of a key area of influence. The concept of the strategy being to break the monopoly of BEA and more specifically BOAC by creating spheres of opportunity for the new carrier, free from aggressive state competition, enabling it to get established. Whilst this appeared to work for a while it soon became imperative that to grow, the carrier had to keep moving forward and a merger with the ‘Charter’ carrier Caledonian in the late 70’s brought about the creation of a second generation’2nd force’- British Caledonian. However through all of this and beyond the BAC-11s continued to weather the changes and perform resolutely and faithfully throughout.
James Goodwin –was my husband and in charge of Quality in Romania –John Goodwin- our son – is now working at the museum –small world !!!!!