At 1056 local on Wednesday, 28 August Vickers VC10 K3 ZA148 landed at Newquay Cornwall Airport to become a permanent part of the Classic Air Force collection.
The aircraft, which took off from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and flew a tour of southern England before arriving at Newquay, is one of the last three airworthy VC10s out of 54 built for airlines and the military.
This particular VC10 (registration ZA148) was built in 1967 for East African Airways and flew as an airliner before joining the RAF ten years later and being converted as an air to air refuelling tanker.
Using the call-sign Ascot 845 Captain Nick Millikan landed the VC10 a few minutes ahead of schedule amidst a crowd of hundreds of cheering onlookers. He was joined in the cockpit by Bruce Thompson, Kev Booth and Jess Gannon as the aircraft clocked up its 48,351st (and final) flying hour!
“We are delighted to welcome this VC10 to the Classic Air Force,” said CEO Trevor Bailey. “With the retirement of Concorde the VC10 was the fastest airliner in the world – often flying at more than 550mph. The imminent retirement of the remaining two VC10s will mean the end of an era for British aero engineering.”
The aeroplane also has a strong personal link for Mr Bailey, whose father worked for Vickers Aircraft at Weybridge and was actually involved in the sale of this very airframe to East African Airways in 1967.
The Classic Air Force was determined to preserve for posterity an example of the aircraft pilots refer to as “the Queen of the Skies.” It will now form part of the permanent collection at Newquay Cornwall Airport. However, unlike the majority of the fleet – which are kept airworthy and flown regularly – this airframe will sadly never fly again.
“Today was a sad and poignant day, but we are pleased we have managed to secure an airframe to display to the public,” said Mr Bailey. “Our collection includes both military and airliner types – so having a VC10 that has fulfilled both roles is a ‘win/win’ for us!”
The first Vickers VC10 made its maiden flight on 29 June 1962 and the type would serve with BOAC and a number of overseas airlines throughout the 1960s and 70s. The type would also serve the Royal Air Force with distinction in both the passenger and cargo configurations as well as in the air-to-air refuelling role.
Its graceful ‘T-tail’ and four rear-mounted Rolls-Royce Conway engines made the ‘Vicky Ten’ one of the most distinctive and elegant aircraft of the era.
The Classic Air Force is open seven days a week and visitors can examine the VC10 and other aircraft at close quarters.