Something different

Aer Lingus

Our third and final promo was with Aer Lingus – the above shows Aer Lingus B 707 at Manchester Airport.
We picked New York again, but this time we didn’t fly direct, but via Dublin and Shannon.
The memorable thing about this flight for me was at Dublin Airport while we were in transit. I visited the Gents and when I finished, I opened the door that I thought was to the concourse, but it was not and as I stepped through I found myself in the street! The door closed behind me – panic how do I get back inside the transit area??

Working at Manchester Airport during the ‘troubles’ we were warned to report anything unusual, because the airport was a possible terrorist target, so having stepped from the comfort of the transit lounge in to a Dublin street I was not sure how I was to convince anyone that I’d only visited the Gents.

I looked at the door and turned the handle which opened the door and I walked through the Gents to the other door, it was easy . . .

The flight was uneventful, except for my short visit to Dublin, but the ‘troubles’ in Belfast were still going on in the early 1970’s

maxresdefault  Picture from the internet.

Our transit stop in Shannon was uneventful, but it was an interesting stop considering that the Shannon Estuary had been the main port for transatlantic seaplanes in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. They landed in the estuary and the terminal was located at Foynes on the south side of the estuary. Land based planes lacked the range to fly the Atlantic at the time. 

Seaplanes_at_Foynes

To warm the passengers off the flying boats a hot drink was invented . . 

220px-Irish_coffee_glass 

Irish Coffee!

In 1947 Shannon airport was the first airport in the world to offer duty free shopping. 

447-4471066_ireland-map-river-shannon-on-a-map-hdThe above map shows the location of Shannon – circled

To return to security, during our earlier BOAC trip to New York we were at the airport checking in for our return flight when we spotted a brown paper parcel in the corner of the of the check-in area near the BOAC counter.
Our first thought was that BOAC was a target and perhaps the parcel was a time bomb.
We reported this to BOAC security and a security guard came over to us and asked us to point out the parcel – which we did. He then slowly walked over to the parcel and as the man got closer he recognised what it was, it was an empty wine bottle in a largish bag. He thought our reaction was funny because the airport was a common place for a ‘wino’ to leave empty bottles.  He picked it up and brought it back to us . .  from our angle at the check in desk we could not see the shape of the bottle.

 

Bottle

We pointed out the BOAC regulations about reporting strange parcels or anything unusual. We then told him of the ‘troubles’ and that BOAC could be a target.
Living in the US he did not seem to have any concept of what had been going on in Belfast. 

On a happier note our visit to New York was full of site seeing and experiencing Macy’s on 5th Avenue-of course!

macys_lauramiller_img_6215__large

On our first trip (which was early winter) we visited Macy’s.

One of our friends entered the shop wearing a pair of sandals – outside there was snow about.
We wandered around as pure tourists, not buying anything just looking, when we were approached by security and asked to leave, because they did not encourage a ‘hippy’ to frequent their store – our sandal wearing friend was not welcome, so we all left.  

Mus

In the evening we visited ‘Your Father’s Mustache’ on 7th Ave & 10th St. They did not care what we wore on our feet.

Father's mustach

  The location was in Greenwich Village.

We visited Your Father’s Mustache  (the music in the clip is banjo music but when we visited it was mainly jazz)a few times during our two trips, but on our second visit to New York we sat at a table and ordered a jug of beer – it came quite quickly, but it was green!

largerI asked the waiter for a normal coloured beer and was told that as it was St Patrick’s Day and that we would only be allowed to drink green beer – and me a English protestant, but beer is beer !   

One might think that the green beer is a modern-day marketing trick, but they have been making green beer in New York for over a hundred years.

Dr. Thomas Hayes Curtin was an Irish American, his family had emigrated to the USA when he was five years old.
To celebrate St Patrick’s Day in 1914 he created the green beer –  his recipe was one drop of wash blue in a quantity of beer.
Today he’d be in prison, because ‘wash blue’ is an iron powder used to whiten clothes – it is also a poison.

Nowadays they use a few drops of food colouring. . . . 

G&B

How can green beer compete with a nice drop of Guinness?

wales

Not wishing to upset the green apple cart, but St Patrick was Welsh, and had been sent to Ireland to convert the population to Christianity.

shamrock

So instead of the green Shamrock beer they should have had the daffodil yellow beer . . . 

flower

Mug+of+fresh+beer+with+foam  We enjoyed our time in New York, but on the negative side we were concerned at the amount of security required by our hotel – I cannot remember the name of the hotel, but I do remember that we were on the ground floor and the windows were barred.

custom-window-guards

Something like this 

and the locks on the door to secure the room –
images

again, something like this, but I think our room had larger locks and more of them, and all I wanted to do was make sure we were not involved in a fire!
By the time I’d worked the locks out we’d have been dead.

Obviously, society dictated that this amount of security was required, which was a disappointment to me and changed my long-held image of America.

It would be about twenty-three years before I would return to New York, but this visit in the 1990’s would be from Sydney in Australia, via London, not Manchester, UK.

 

Promos

AF

Working for an airline sometimes (very occasionally) we were offered cheap trips on a particular route if the airline was doing a ‘promo’ to encourage people to fly to a particular destination.

Air France in the early 1970’s offered a round trip ticket to Paris via their  Caravelle service for £7, (£100 today or US $130) which included two nights in a hotel.

Maureen and I had been married for about eighteen months and we had not had a honeymoon, because we decided to take out a mortgage to buy a house, so the £7 sounded a good deal. We left on Friday and arrived back late afternoon on Sunday.

We stayed at the Hotel Pretty, but I am unable to find any details of this hotel online and my lasting impression of the hotel was that it was cheap, but it did have a memorable breakfast.

The large oblong table was covered in a blue plastic table cloth, and a bread board was placed in the centre,  along with long sticks of French bread and a large knife for cutting the bread and of course a pots of jam – but we did not have any butter.

breakfast

The above picture gives you an idea –

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Each of the hotel guests were given a plain white bowl (without a handle) for our coffee, and for me it was the best coffee I had ever tasted. I’ve never been able to recreate the taste again.
Bread sticks were passed up and down the table and chunks hacked off by a hotel guest to be smeared with jam.
Our group consisted of  Maureen & I, another couple and two single males – all the males in our party worked together for BOAC cargo at Manchester airport.
We were not offered cereal or bacon & eggs  . . . but we did share the smell of . .

fags

I think smoking in Paris at that time was compulsory . .

Overall, we enjoyed our ‘foreign’ weekend away and it was not long before we decided to take advantage of our ability to fly with BOAC at a discount rate. This time we picked New York.

From memory once again I think we were accompanied by others from the BOAC team.

VC10 The aircraft was the VC 10 – Manchester to New York, non-stop.

VC10-Interior

Inside the VC 10 – Maureen & I were fortunate because we had three seats for the two of us.

I asked a stewardess (this was their title at that time) if I could visit the flight deck, she said she would ask, which she did and a few minutes later I was invited to meet the captain and his crew on the flight deck – how times have changed.

VC 10

Captain, first officer, engineer & navigator

The flight deck was quite crowded when I was included. I was offered a small pull-down seat while I chatted with the captain as he explained the routine of the flight. I was particularly interested in the navigational officer’s duty having been a deck officer at sea.

In the early 1970’s satellite navigation for commercial aircraft was still in the future. The first NAVSTAR (Navigation System with Timing and Ranging) was not launched until 1978, which was part of the US defence department system, and it was not until the 1980’s before the system could be used by commercial aircraft.

VC 10 buble

To navigate across the Atlantic the navigating officer would use a ‘bubble sextant’ . . . 

sextant

When I was at sea we used a sextant to navigate around the oceans, (see above picture for a marine sextant) the idea being to measure the angle of the stars or the sun by bring the image of the star or sun down to the horizon and reading off the angle from which we would work out our latitude etc.

Obviously when flying one could not measure the angle of a star by bringing it down to the horizon, because if it was night and cloudy the aircraft would be above the clouds so the navigation officer would not be able to see the horizon at 30,000 feet.

On the aircraft they used a bubble sextant, which has a bubble in a liquid filled chamber (think a carpenter’s spirit level), which provides an artificial horizon. While the navigator holds the instrument, the pilot does his best to fly straight and steady, and at a constant speed, because if the plane is jerked in anyway the navigator receives an incorrect reading. The pilot may do his best to keep the plane steady, but wind and air density can cause alterations, so the navigator will take several readings and average out the result. 

The black and white picture above the picture of the marine sextant shows a VC 10 navigator taking readings.

Thanks to the bubble sextant we did not get lost on the way to New York.

Richard Byrd, 1888-1957 (not the same Dicky Byrd that worked for BOAC) developed the bubble sextant using a modified standard marine sextant, and in May 1919 he flew the Atlantic in a NC-4 seaplane and landed in Plymouth U.K.  
NC = Navy Curtiss flying boat.

Richard Byrd’s flight took three weeks after stops in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, the Azores, and Lisbon,

At that time there was a prize of £10,000 (worth about US $600,000 today) for the first person to fly non-stop across the Atlantic, and it had to be completed within 72 hours. The prize was only open to non-military flyers. 

Alcock and Brown won the prize in June 1919 in a Vickers Vimy bomber, they completed the flight in less than sixteen hours.

Alcock_Brown_2-1

As they approached Ireland, they thought the ground that they could see was flat grassland and ideal for a place to land. The landing area was a bog . . .but they were the first people to fly the Atlantic non-stop.

The visit to the flight deck was interesting and it helped pass the time because it would be some time before airlines introduced films (movies) on a regular basis, which mainly came about with the advent of the B747.
Oddly enough the first commercial inflight movie was shown on Imperial Airways Ltd (the for runner of BOAC) from London to Paris in 1925, it was a silent commercial film of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book – The Lost World.

Movies

Cargo passengers ?

Some months after Ollie’s weather forecast incident I was again on nights, but this time with another colleague, when we received a message from the inbound aircraft that they had an emergency.

We asked for details, and it was not an emergency of the aircraft, but a passenger problem. Knowing the aircraft was a freighter, why did they have a passenger problem? 

Frt deck

To give you an idea of the inside of a freighter the above picture is of a B727 which is smaller than a B707, but the principal is the same with the ‘ball bearing’ roller beds to roll palleted cargo to the correct location.
The larger planes of today can carry a higher payload than the B 707C. (C=cargo)

B747

The above is the main deck of a B747 freighter, as you see they can now load pallets side by side rather than one behind the other.  During my BOAC days the pallets were pushed in to place by airport loaders, whereas today it is mechanically controlled.

There are aircraft that are called QC – quick change – which means the passenger seats can be stripped out and pallets loaded in their place.

B_737_QC_2-13-695x461

This is a B 737 QC – note that the passenger overhead lockers are still in place only the seats have been removed to make room for cargo.

Of course you don’t have to remove the seats if you don’t want to . . 

B737 cargo

The above is a B 737 where the seats have been left in place, but protected, and cargo loaded instead of passengers. Thanks to Covid-19 this system has been used a great deal due to the lack of passengers and the demand for cargo aircraft.

Back to the emergency on BA 066 freighter from New York to Manchester and finally London.
We asked more details of the emergency and what we could do to help.

Part of the cargo on this trip was a live dolphin –

dolphin

The dolphin would be in a hammock, which was in a water tank, the ‘passenger’ would be accompanied by a ‘handler’. 

tanks

I have included this picture to clarify the ‘hammock’ system, which shows a ‘multiple’ system. Obviously every care would be taken for the health and welfare of any animal.

The emergency was the dolphin, it had given birth earlier than expected, and this was perhaps due to it being her first flight. . .

The request was for a smaller tank for the calve, and can we have it ready for their arrival?

We asked how large will the tank have to be?

Not smaller than about 45 inches (1.1 mtr) we were told, at that time the UK was still measuring items in feet and inches.

The two of us at the BOAC base put on our thinking caps – a baby dolphin, 45 inches long, the tank has to be large enough to hold the dolphin and a certain amount of water . . . . who would have such a tank?

So, being resourceful (as we thought) we rang Manchester zoo and asked if they could possibly bring out a container for a newborn baby dolphin born on a B 707 over the Atlantic? . . . . . click!

They didn’t believe us. . .

Never mind we will ring Chester Zoo, they are a much larger concern and we were sure that they would know what to do . . . click! again.

The dolphin was consigned to a zoo in Yorkshire, so we rang the Yorkshire zoo, but the zoo did not answer the phone.

I suppose ringing at 3.00 am didn’t help. . . .

Then we had a brainwave we would ring up an undertaker for a waterproof coffin that could hold the dolphin and the water. We rang a few and didn’t get anywhere, well, we thought it was a good idea.

Thinking caps again, and the aircraft was getting closer and closer . . .

Finally, we thought outside the square – just a little outside, by offering a largish sum of money – who to ring – Scotland of course! (A very un-pc thought in today’s world)

We rang our office at Prestwick airport (they were awake) and had a chat and suggested the coffin idea – they agreed and said they would let us know.

Eventually our Prestwick office found an undertaker who was willing to take a chance that we were telling the truth.

So now it was up to us – we called up BA 066 and explained the problem that we had in getting anyone to believe us in Manchester and suggested that they divert to Prestwick where an undertaker with his plastic lined water tight coffin was waiting.

There was a long silence until at last we heard the Captain telling us that he had been in contact with air traffic control, and he was diverting to Prestwick, but he would not be calling at Manchester after Prestwick because he would be out of hours if he did, and would not be able to take the aircraft to London.

We agreed, and told him that we would deal with the cargo agents in the morning – well to be exact, dealing with the agents who were going to be as mad as anything due to their cargo being in London, would not be our worry as we signed off at 7.00 am and went home to bed.

The cargo would be trucked from London to Manchester and would arrive the following morning.

Both mother and calve survived and were trucked from Prestwick to the Yorkshire zoo, and everybody was happy including the Scottish undertaker.

Yorkshire

Perhaps things have changed, because I have read that Yorkshire now advertises boat rides for visitors to visit dolphins in their natural state rather than going to a zoo.

More diversion problems . .

a small monkey eats bananas in a national park. Asian jungle with monkeys
 

On one diversion that had monkeys as cargo we had to remove them from the aircraft to have the hold cleaned and also to feed and water the animals. Unfortunately, one of the monkeys escaped and ran across the warehouse floor to the wall and within a few seconds had scaled the wall and was now sitting on one of the roof beams.

This was a huge problem because we did not have any idea if the animal was healthy or what deceases it could spread amongst British animals and humans.  

How to get it down . . . use bananas of course – a monkey will do anything for a banana, or so we thought.

We tried to tempt it down with various fruits in the hope that we could capture the animal.
Ollie, one of my colleagues, was adamant that we should do our best to keep the problem in house before we called in a sharp shooter. 

rifle

Ollie tried his best to entice the animal down and spent a considerable amount of time placing fruit at strategic places. The animal did come down partway and took some of the fruit, but it was always just out of reach of being captured.

Ollie was very concerned and kept telling me that it was only a matter of time before the animal would trust him . . . 

Finally Ollie did get close to the monkey, which emptied its bowels and threw some of the contents at Ollie and hit him in the head – Ollie was upset to say the least, so he rang the police for a sharpshooter muttering about the ingratitude of monkeys. 

The monkey was shot with a tranquilliser dart from memory, rather than a bullet.

asleep

Found the picture on the internet of a tranquilised monkey.

I’ve called my colleague Ollie, which was not his name, I haven’t seen him for over forty years, but I do not wish to cause him any embarrassment if he sees this post.

Ollie

I named him Ollie, because he reminded me of another Ollie, not in looks, but in ‘off set ability’.

One night Ollie and I were on nights together (there were two of us because a freighter was due from New York), I was working on the load plan for the final leg of the flight to London and I’d left Ollie to listen on the radio.

Our call sign was ‘Speedbird Manchester’, and the inbound flight was ‘Speedbird 066’ (i.e BA 066). 

Around 3.00 am the aircraft was still over the Atlantic, and they called us for the local weather to assist them when landing.
Normally we would ring the airport control tower for a full weather report because the aircraft dealt with us rather than the tower.

This night Ollie decided to go outside to see what the weather was like, and then wandered back to the radio.

‘Speed 066 this is Speedbird Manchester, – it’s raining!’ this in a strong Bolton accent

There was silence from the aircraft, until the aircraft replied and asked if we could be a little more explicit!

What they wanted was cloud height, wind strength, and wind direct etc.

Ollie held the microphone and said ‘Speedbird 066, this Speedbird Manchester please hold . . . ‘
after which he wandered outside again and on his return to the radio he said – ‘Speedbird 066 this is Speedbird Manchester, it’s pissing down!’

After that night I refused to work nights with him ever again.         

Damn the dams in Laos

LA

In 2010 eight of us (four couples) from Sydney thought it was time that we visited Indochina, and one of the countries on our list was Laos.
We flew to Thailand (Bangkok) and then domestically to Chiang Mei.

From Chiang Mei to Luang Prabang, which is in Laos, we decided to fly with Laos Air.

Loas Air

It was not a large plane, but I have flown on smaller, and not as modern.

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Coming in to land at Luang Prebang – Picture thanks to KI.

After clearing customs and paying USD$30 each for a visa on arrival, we were met by the hotel transport, which was a large minibus, for the trip to the hotel.

delux

A modern day picture from the hotel’s website for a Mekong Delux room.
The room is much the same as the rooms that we had in 2010

The Grand Hotel overlooked the Mekong River, hence the name of the rooms.

M river

View from our bedroom.

Hotel

Part of the hotel’s gardens.

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Breakfast was outside and it was often cold first thing in the morning – we were there early March . . . pic thanks to KI

M river01

Yours truly wondering why the water in the river was so low. I was told later that it was due to Chinese dams being built upriver, the flow had been considerably reduced.

M river02

We booked one of the boats for a trip to Pak Ou Caves also known locally as the caves of a thousand buddhas – the trip would include lunch.

M river03

A further indication of how low the water had become. We just boarded by climbing from the sandy riverbed into the boat.

Mriver04

 

Not far from where we boarded the river boat we saw the above boats just sitting on the bottom due to the low water.

It was an enjoyable boat ride to the caves.

Homes

A home along the river bank, they did not have many modern day conveniences but they did have satellite TV, which is more than I do :- o) 
Other homesMore homes along the bank.

approach

Approaching the caves, as you see they are popular

inside

Inside the caves . . it was quite cool.

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There were a large number of statues in the caves. 

After the caves we returned to our boat to cross the river for lunch.

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The old white-haired guy is being very careful going down the stairs – pic thanks to GD

Lunch

Lunch – with a beer or two of course – very pleasant, overlooking the river.

MT village

After lunch we were shown around a small village, but due to the heat (early afternoon) most stall holders were inside – they did come out when the ladies showed an interest in a particular item.

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                           Of course we found the moonshine man  . . . . pic from KI    

   

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                      We watched the booze being made . . .pic from KI

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                                                            The moonshine man . . .pic thanks to KI

Bottles

I was offered a free drink of locally produced wine, which was pleasant, but I did not fancy a pickled scorpion – even a free one! 

 

M river05

On returning to our boat we were able to appreciate just how low the water had become. 

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Our boatman had moved our boat to a small pier, which highlighted the low water – Picture thanks to GD

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Luang Prebang main street – following pics are thanks to KI

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   Main street

   

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Plenty of restaurants and we found the food to be tasty, very fresh and ‘sharp’. Beer, wine & spirits were available in restaurants & bars at good prices – of course the locally produced beer & wine were cheaper than the imported drinks.

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The Night market came in handy for small gifts to take home. Pic thanks to GD

 

 

 

More tails of . . .

Fog 01

If London was fogged in, the first alternate was Manchester, and winter generated quite a few ‘foreign’ visitors. If they were in the BOAC partnership ‘camp’ we would handle the aircraft, if they were Japanese Airlines, Thai or US airlines then these airlines would be handled by an agency called

Servisair_logo.svg

that were located across the road from the BOAC warehouse and have since gone out of business. The airlines below, at that time, were ‘family’, there were more, but I cannot remember them all.

East_African_Airways_Vickers_VC-10_Groves-2

East African Airways

Nigeria

Nigerian Airways

QF

Qantas

SQ

Singapore Airlines

Air_New_Zealand_Douglas_DC-8_SYD_Wheatley

Air New Zealand – in 1973 the Southern Cross on the tail was removed.

b707

and of course our own BOAC aircraft

As soon as the aircraft had taxied to the appropriate area we were out there waiting to board. Our first consideration would be Queen’s Messengers, 

QueensMessengerpassport

did the aircraft have a QM on board and if so, was he escorting diplomatic mail stowed in the hold or only via a locked briefcase attached to his wrist. 

greyhound

The symbol of a Queen’s Messenger is the greyhound. The British Royal Messenger can be traced back to the 12th century. Messengers from King John, Henry III and the first three Edwards can be identified and named thanks to Mary C. Hill book ‘King’s Messengers 1199-1377′.
Charles II appointed four men to carry messages to loyal subjects in the Royalist forces and as a sign of their authority the King broke four silver greyhounds from a silver bowel and gave one to each messengers, which is how the greyhound became the symbol of a Messenger of the Monarch.  

If the diplomatic mail was in the hold, we would unload it and secure it back at base – if via the locked briefcase he would be escorted through customs and immigration and looked after via the ‘system’.

Queens-Messenger-406690

All normal mail sacks would be removed and taken back to our warehouse to await pick-up by the GPO. 
The GPO mail had a different manifest and separate paperwork than cargo, so we had to find the purser (then called the chief steward) to sign a receipt that we had accepted the mail and he was free of the responsibility for the mail. 

Our next concern was livestock – did the aircraft have livestock in the hold, if so what type, and did they need watering.  
The standard aircraft before the B 747 had belly space which was allocated for passenger baggage, cargo & mail. Livestock came under cargo. Each area was sectioned off by netting to ID the area and also stop items flying around.

Pan Am

 

If the aircraft was a B707 (see above) there is seepage of warm air from the passenger deck into the hold area, which helped keep any animals comfortable. 
This seepage was welcomed by the airlines unless the aircraft was carrying a 200 kgs gorilla, or 300 kilos of live monkeys (in cages of course). The reason for not putting the gorilla or monkeys in the same area as other animals is that they stink in a confined area, and if the seepage of warm air can drift from the passenger area it can drift into the passenger area, which would not be acceptable for a trans-Atlantic flight or a long-haul to Singapore or Australia.
The way round this was to place the unacceptable guests in hold five – I’ve marked hold five with a green circle. This hold does not have any seepage in to or from the passenger area. Everyone is happy.

On checking if the diverted flight had livestock, we would ascertain what livestock and only open the cargo door a little to make sure any animal has not escaped its cage. On one flight we opened the cargo door and we were met with a large dog that was quite upset because it had chewed its way out of its wooden cage. As the door opened, we saw him standing looking at us and he appeared to be all teeth and bad tempered.

We called the police and asked for a sharpshooter, because if the dog escaped it would have to be shot due to the strict quarantine regulations at the time.  The police arrived and one officer moved slowly to the dog talking to it all the time in a low voice, while his mate lined up his rifle. 
The quiet talking policeman took off his police cap and placed it just inside the cargo door while still chatting quietly as the dog paced back and forth until it stopped near the policeman’s hat and defecated in to his hat.  The Policeman was ‘upset’.
The dog wasn’t shot, it sat around and waited until someone clipped a chain to its neck and trotted off to the RSPCA where they had a new box for it for the flight to London when the weather cleared. 
The hatless policeman was shouting at the sharpshooter that he should have shot the dog . . . .    

dog

Like many people the dog did not like flying  . . . it was frightened.
(the picture is not of the dog in question). 

At other times we had to deal with tropical birds, which unfortunately caused one of our staff to become seriously ill in hospital.

He had attended a diverted flight from Africa which had tropical birds as cargo, mainly parrots. He caught a disease known as psittacosis, which is more commonly known as ‘parrot disease’ which can damage the lungs. 

800px-Psittacus_erithacus_cucumber

The staff member’s name was Richard Byrd, so of course he was ‘Dicky’ Byrd to the rest of the staff and when he was in hospital in Manchester we would ring the hospital to ask after his health . . . the problem was when the hospital asked his name and we said Dicky Byrd, and what was his complaint asked the hospital ‘Parrot disease’ we answered and the hospital hung up on us. . . . . 

We eventually worked it out to ask for ‘Mr. Byrd’ and to give the correct medical name (psittacosis) for his complaint . . . once we knew his ward number it became easier to get through the switchboard.

We live and learn . . .          

Tales of woe

When I joined BOAC there were about 23 or 25 staff made up of office staff and warehouse staff.

We worked a three shift system 7 am to 3 pm, 3.00 pm to 11.pm and a night shift, and certain staff worked office hours (day shift).

On Saturday & Sunday we had one office person and two warehouse staff on duty from 7 am to 3.00 pm and the late shift consisted of one office worker (this was before H & S had been invented).

Night shift was one office worker unless there was a scheduled freighter due in when there would be two office staff on duty.

Most of the office staff would ‘play’ with a forklift until they were proficient because cargo would be delivered for export outside normal hours, and someone had to operate the forklift to unload the cargo.

In addition, we often had the general public walk / drive in with heavy suitcases or packages.

One late Saturday afternoon when I was in duty a car pulled up and the driver and his wife wanted to send excess baggage to India as they were flying there later in the week.

This was not unusual so I told the driver to drive around the corner and in to the warehouse and to park near the scales so that the baggage could be weighed & measured.
Cargo was sold by the kilo or by the volume – one volumetric kilo was (is) 6000 cubic centimetres, but in the 1970’s it was also sold as 427 cubic inches = 1 kilo.

I walked across the warehouse to the parked car and noticed that the rear springs were nearly touching the floor, the diver must have something heavy in the boot.

I was told by the customer that he had a suitcase to send in advance, and because he had a ticket, he was entitled to 50% discount off the cargo rate – which was true.

I asked him to place his suitcase on the scale – he opened the boot and struggled to unload the suitcase and eventually managed and put it on the ground. I tried to pick it up by the handle to place it on the scale – it was so heavy I could not pick it up, because I was concerned that the handle would break. The suitcase weighed just over 44 kilos.

I asked what he had in the suitcase and was told it was clothing and some personal effects.
I then switched to Hindi (with my Scouse accent) and asked with a smile if it was so heavy because he had stolen all the dobi walla’s work.
(Dobi walla means ‘washerman’, as in laundry man).

At least this brought a smile from the customer, so I asked him to open the case and show me the contents – he was reluctant but realised that he did not have a choice.

On opening the case I saw that it was a Triumph Herald gear box, or something similar.

TH

Triumph Herald car, circa 1970

gear

Triumph Herald gear box packed in the suitcase. 

No wonder he had a struggle getting it out of the car . . . but he insisted that it was his personal effects, so I asked him with a smile to wear his personal effects if he wanted the 50% discount.

There was a long silence until I told him that he was exporting car parts and he should have an invoice.

He looked blank at me until I explained that if we coded his shipment as car parts it was a lot cheaper than the 50% excess baggage.  The light dawned and he and I entered the office and I made out the document (Air Way Bill) to accept the shipment as car parts and he sat at another desk and wrote out an ‘invoice’.

The full kilo rate was around £10 per kilo, so by claiming the 50% discount the customer was expecting to pay £5 per kilo, but be reclassifying the cargo as car parts the price was about £1-10-0 per kilo. (£1.50/kilo).
The UK did not change to decimal currency until February 1971. 

awb

AWB =- the above code of 406 denotes the airline, so the BOAC code number would be 125 – followed by a unique number for tracking the shipment, by telexes not computers.
At that time all paperwork was completed via the typewriter because computers were in the future. We had to press hard to produce, I think from memory, eight copies of the original via carbon paper between each copy . . .   later the AWB paper was produced with the ability not to require carbon paper. 

The customer paid and we left on good terms. As I processed the paperwork, I heard a loud bang and crash from the warehouse.

The customer had driven in to the warehouse via the ramp, but on leaving he had exited via the truck loading bay  . . . 

drop

This is to illustrate the drop – it is not a picture of the BOAC warehouse.

The car was balanced part in the warehouse and the front part delicately balanced in mid-air. As soon as I realised what had happened, I fired up the fork lift and drove down the ramp and placed the forks under the front of the car to stop it tipping any further. I shouted to the driver to put the car in neutral.
I then slowly raised the forks of the lift and eased the car back into the warehouse. 
The driver was shaking, but I do not think it was from the experience of nearly driving over the edge of the warehouse, but from the torrent of language and arm waving from his wife. She was not happy!

I pointed out the ramp to the driver and left them to have their domestic . . . 

————————————————————-

Life can be strange – working for an airline we sold cargo space in pounds or kilos – dead weight or volumetric weight. We converted it to kilos for shipping and charged in pounds, shillings and pence at so much a pound . . . .we used ready reckoners to work out the totals.

Consider 43 kilos at £2-6- 7- 1/2 (Two pound six shillings and seven pence h’penny / kilo), but don’t use a calculator!   

In 1969 /70 we were on the cusp of the personal electronic calculator at a cost that the individual could afford. 

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Ready Reckoner – having used both & I prefer the calculator 

Ringway

Manchester Ship Cana_2_5882501

Manchester Ship Canal in the early 1900’s.

Over the years Manchester had a number airports, the first being built near the Manchester Ship Canal, and it was called Trafford Park Aerodrome. It opened in 1911 and closed in 1918.

This was followed by Alexandra Park Aerodrome, which can be seen below.

Alexandra_Park_Aerodrome_1923

Manchester’s second airport 1918 – 1924 –
there isn’t any trace of the airport left because it has been built over for housing, and a main road was built at the eastern part of the site.

Woodford Aerodrome or Manchester Woodford Aerodrome came next, which was a former private aerodrome for Avro aircraft manufacturing. This company built the

Anson

Anson

Lancaster

The Lancaster bomber

Vulcan

The Vulcan bomber just to name three famous aircraft from this company.

The aerodrome was expanded in the 1930’s and after the war the company was bought by Hawker Siddeley, and years later became part of British Aerospace.

In the meantime, Manchester created a municipal airport called Wythenshawe in 1929, which was the first municipal airport in the UK.

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Wythenshawe Aerodrome

This airport was always only temporary and only lasted a year.

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What Wythenshawe Aerodrome looks like today.

The penultimate airport was Barton Aerodrome or City Airport Manchester.

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Four grass runways, 9.00 am to 8.oo pm operation, and this airport is still open today, and all the original buildings are now ‘protected’ because they are grade two listed buildings, which are often used as setting for films & TV.

As this airport was opened in 1930 another airport was being considered, and construction began in 1935 and completed in 1938. The airport was located near a small parish called Ringway.

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Ringway Chapel

Ringway in Cheshire has a recorded history going back to 1173, and the first time the chapel was mentioned was in 1515. The chapel was used during the English civil war 1642-1651.

In 1776 the original chapel was demolished and replaced with a new red brick building. In 1863 Ringway chapel became Ringway Parish church, and in 1894 it was demolished and rebuilt and consecrated in 1895.

The airport is still referred to as Ringway by locals, and when I worked there it was called Ringway, but when dealing with people overseas we called  it Manchester Airport.
The airport official changed its name from Ringway to Manchester Airport (MAN) in 1954.

During the war the airport was known as RAF Ringway.

The hanger / warehouse where BOAC cargo was located (which is where I worked) used to be the training hanger for RAF Ringway, where they trained parachutists during WW2.
I’ve read that 60,000 soldiers were trained, in this warehouse / hanger, to be parachutist.
The troops came not just from the UK, but Poland, Canada and other allied countries.

Parachute_Training_at_Ringway_Art.IWMARTLD5635

I found the above on the internet, which illustrates how they trained the recruits in the basics of parachuting.

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As far as I can make out by using the internet, I think the hanger where I  worked is now the check-in area for Ryanair and KLM. The airport has completely changed since I left in 1980.
At least I was able to find the pubs on Google maps that we used frequent . . .

airport pub

The Airport Pub – which we only visited very occasionally, because it was very close to work, and noisy due to the aircraft, but I note that the pub has now made the noise an attraction . . . .  

A24-1

Back garden of the Airport Pub . . . 

Tatton ArmsThe Tatton Arms
Close to the airport for a quick lunch time pint and a pickled egg, the picked eggs were very good.

ship inn 01

The Ship Inn was further away from the airport than the Tatton Arms, and it had a  different ‘atmosphere’ altogether. 

ship-history2

The Ship Inn dates back 350 years and used to be a store house for manure until the farmer started to brew beer.
The wisteria plant that grows outside is claimed to be 260 years old.

I started this post with a picture of the Manchester ship canal, which was opened in 1894, 134 years after the wisteria was planted . . . . 

wisteria

Just a reminder of wisteria in bloom . . it is not The Ship Inn wisteria.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

In late 1968 I resigned from a life at sea and decided on a life with B.O.A.C.

So life would change from water to air.

BOAC VC 10 at Manchester Airport

BOAC – B707

BOAC B707 freighter – my introduction to containerisation.

The airline pallets (containers) can be seen loaded on trolleys – they would be towed to the aircraft and a scissor lift would load them to the correct level and then labour would pull the loaded pallet in to the aircraft. We would load thirteen pallets per aircraft of mixed cargo. In addition, cargo would be loaded in the belly holds and secured with nets or rope. Any dangerous cargo would also be loaded in the belly of the aircraft.

Part of my job was the supervision of the loading of cargo into passenger & freighter aircraft.

Later I became responsible for the load and balance of the aircraft. This means that I worked out the balance of the aircraft so that it would take off safely.
I would produce a chart, which I presented to the captain of the aircraft with suggested aircraft settings based on the runway length, the maximum weight of the aircraft, which included fuel and cargo (passengers) and the weather conditions.

There were a number of considerations to take in to account, and this was well before computers, so it was all completed by hand, and the chart was made of Perspex, which showed my calculations in pencil and the result as a lined graph.

To complete the ‘graph’ I had a list of the actual gross weight of each pallet and the weight of the cargo stowed in various parts of the aircrafts belly. I would make sure that the heavier pallets were as close to the centre of gravity of the aircraft as possible. I also had to be aware of the current weather conditions and the height above sea level of the runway.

For example, the heat of the Persian Gulf would restrict the maximum take-off weight because the higher the temperature the thinner the air, which had to be used to create lift so the aircraft could fly. In addition certain airports around the world, which were built several thousand feet above sea level would also have thinner air.

To divert a little to illustrate the importance of the weight of cargo and air temperature, I once flew from Apia, in Western Samoa, to Pago Pago in American Samoa. Both islands are in the Pacific Ocean.

Samoan Air, twin otter

Because certain Samoans are larger than an average western person, some of them were weighed and some of us were not. The aircraft was small, so every kilo was counted and recounted, and a full load was twenty passengers, and Western Samoa is HOT at certain times of the year.!
The flight from Apia to Pago Pago was not long, about fifteen minutes, but it was still an international flight.
Our baggage was stowed behind the last passenger and of course the aircraft did not have any toilets.
On the plus side it was a very scenic flight, if low . . . .

Back to Manchester and the weights involved – the maximum weight for any aircraft is the maximum taxi weight. The B 707 at Manchester would burn off 1000 kilos (a ton) of fuel just taxiing to the end of the take of runway.

The B 707 with a flight number BA 537 originated in London, transited Manchester for Prestwick in Scotland before crossing the Atlantic to New York. After which it would fly on to Kingston (Jamaica), Antigua (Antigua & Barbuda), Bridgetown (Barbados), Port of Spain (Trinidad), Georgetown (Guyana).
Every time I processed the paperwork for this flight I couldn’t help thinking of pirates, pieces of eight & Treasure Island.

Each cargo manifest had the code for each destination from MAN (Manchester), PIK (Prestwick), JFK (New York), KIN, ANU, BGI, POS, GEO all fairly obvious, but the ship’s bag (as it was called) bulged with the amount of paperwork for each stop.

CaribbeanMap1

The aircraft terminated in Georgetown and was made ready for the return journey as BA 538. I’ve underlined the stops in the Caribbean using a green line.

The VC 10 BA 607 was destined to Canada – London, Manchester, Prestwick, Montréal and terminating in Toronto.
The IATA city codes were not a problem until you reach Montreal, which becomes YUL & Toronto becomes YYZ.

You may ask why the three letter codes for most cities can be worked out – LHR, MAN, BER, SYD, MEL, TYO,SIN etc

So back to Canada – Before IATA was created, Canada had a network of weather towers near their airports, and as air travel increased in the 1930’s pilots wanted to know if a particular airport had a weather tower.
The authorities had already issued IDs for each airport using a two letter code so they added a ‘Y’ (as in ‘YES’) before the two letter code to show that this airport had a weather tower.
At that time Montréal-Dorval airport radio call sign was UL so, because Montreal had a weather tower it was designated as YUL!
Just to confuse a little more, the radio code of Malton in Canada is YZ, and Malton is close to the city of Toronto, so we now have Toronto’s IATA code as YYZ.

Because Canada already had many of their cities designated with a weather tower that required a Y for YES, they decided to use the letter Y for the first letter of the new IATA code system for all Canadian airports.

This seemed a good idea except that not all airports had a weather tower so those without a weather tower did not have a radio code.

Not to be beaten, they decided to pick on the railway system, which already had two letter codes for railway stations, so for Edmonton the railway code was EG, so they added the Y to EG and now IATA recognises Edmonton as YEG.

Certain cities can be recognised with a little thought by thinking ‘railway’ thoughts – YVR is Vancouver (VR being the rail code for that city); QB is Quebec, so the airport is YQB and so on.

YYZ

Toronto (YYZ) 70 year old weather tower.
Leaving on a jet plane. . .

London

 

Ticket As I sat in the transit lounge at Tehran airport & scanned my ticket – it was a BOAC ticket, but the the airline was Qantas.

Boarding pass

As was the boarding pass

426px-Boeing_707-138B,_Jett_Clipper_Johnny_JP27930

The aircraft in 1968 was a B 707 /138, which had been modified by Qantas with a turbofan and they renamed their modified aircraft as V-Jets – the V from the Latin word vannus meaning ‘fan’, or to be pedantic  “thing that blows against the grain”.

Qantas Airways was the new name, because up to 1967 Qantas’ name had been Qantas Empire Airways .

The route from Sydney to London is traditionally known as the ‘Kangaroo Route’, and Qantas had various ways of getting to London in the 1960’s.

boardin

Boarding was via a set of stair – the idea of an aero-bridge to assist passenger boarding  of the aircraft was in its infancy.

The aircraft that I was to board had arrived from Sydney via Manila, Hong King and New Delhi, and from Tehran our next stop would be Athens and finally London.

In 1966 you could get to London from Sydney via the Fiesta Route, which was via Fiji, Tahiti, Acapulco, Mexico City, Nassau, Bermuda, London.

Don’t forget at that time the in-flight entertainment was the airline magazine or you chatted with the passenger next to you, or you read a book, because movies on demand was years in the future and even the pull down public screen for everyone to watch the same film, was also in the future.

The cost of my ticket for a one-way trip from Abadan to London was $288.50 USD or in today’s money USD $2,187 (AUD $3,124). It was an expensive one-way flight in economy.

QFG seatingPicture from the internet of the inside of a Qantas B707/138 economy class seating, and the one thing you hoped for in economy was that the centre seat was unoccupied.

dress code

At that time you dressed appropriately for international travel – the above is just an illustration.

Uniform

Stewardess’ uniform for Qantas in 1968

QF menu

Once I sat down I was presented with a breakfast menu.

Menu02

Of course in 1968 smoking onboard was acceptable . . .

smokeSASand even encouraged, because some airlines created cigarettes so that the smoker became advert once they left the aircraft. Many airlines gave away matches and cigarette lighters with their name and logo imprinted on both.

We arrived in Athens at 5.00 am (05.00 hr) and as we were only on the ground for forty five minutes so I doubt that we would have left the plane as it was refueling, but we were not allowed to smoke.

ETA London was 8.15 am.

On arrival I had to transfer from Heathrow to Euston railway station in the city, to catch a train to Liverpool – I was hoping for a steam train experience of my childhood, but I’d forgotten that the line had been electrified in 1966.

0_lime17

Liverpool Lime Street still had the old feeling and the ‘smell’ of steam, which could have been just my wishful thinking.

A fortnight after I arriving home British Rail ran the last scheduled steam train from Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Victoria, and then on to Carlisle before returning. This last service was in commemoration of the opening of the Liverpool to Manchester line in 1830, which was the first public railway system to use only steam locomotives.lms_5mt_45110_barton_moss_15_gns_spcl_11-08-68_edited-2

The above is the actual 1968 train, and the picture is off the internet.