Thursday, June 20, 2024 Civil/General Aviation » Deliveries » Special flights,  
Special/Unusual flights

This page lists unusual flights, usually record-breaking attempts or proving flights by airlines.

This section added on 13.08.14.
Airspeed AS.5 Courier Sir Alan Cobham G-ABXN Diverted to Malta because of a broken throttle on 22.09.34 at 18:00. It eventually departed on 10 October at 07:30. c/n 7. First flight from Portsmouth on April 11, 1933. Four days later it crashed at Portsmouth, receiving minor damage. Repaired, it had another accident at RAF Martlesham Heath. It was used in aerial refuelling experiments by the well-known British aviation pioneer Sir Alan Cobham, using two Handley Page W10's as aerial tanker.

The experiments let to the attempt of a non-stop flight to India, that started at Portsmouth on September 24 (see note below), 1934. It ended the same day when Cobham had to make a forced landing at Malta, due to a broken throttle, in the event the Courier was damaged.

The aircraft was impressed into the RAF in June 1940, s/n X9427. The fate of the aircraft is unknown.

Note.Two or three sites I consulted on this aircraft give the departure date from the UK as the 24th. However, the Customs files at the National Archives, volume I-63 no. 96 clearly gives the landing date as the 22nd. The only aircraft listed on the 24th was a Savoia Marchetti S-55P of Ala Littoria SA, I-OLAO, landing at 09:40, departing at 10:20.
Avro 581 Avian H. J. L. Hinkler G-EBOV Aircraft landed on 08.02.28 at 15:00, having departed from Croydon (7th) & Rome (8th). Departed Malta on the 9th. Pilot was on a record-breaking UK-Australia flight, completing the journey in 128 flying hours, a little over 15 days, down from 28 days for the previous record. The aircraft is preserved at the Queensland Museum, Brisbane. c/n S116
Av. York 511 MW100 This aircraft was involved in transporting freight to the Teheran Conference in 1943. Departed RAF Lyneham for Northolt on 12.11.43, departing that same night for Gibraltar. Departed for Malta on the 17th, departing for Aouina, Tunis on the 20th. Aircraft landed back in the UK on 11.12.43, but didn’t route via Malta for the return flight.

B-24 Liberator, AL545 was used to ferry VIPs, but this didn’t land at Malta.
B. Britannia 175 Srs 102 Bristol Co. Aircraft Ltd. G-ANBH First visit by a Britannia aircraft. Arrived from Filton to Entebbe on a refueling stop between 00:35-03:45 on 29.05.56 returning on 15.06.56 between 07:05-08:45. It was also seen when returning from Entebbe (but never arriving from the UK) on the following dates: 31.07.56 (04:50-06:15), 25-26.09.56 (no arrival time on the 25th, but departed at 09:10 on the 26th), 16.10.56 (06:10-08:35) and 05.11.56 (04:05-05:00). c/n 12909.
Ce. Centurion   G-BEYV Arrived from Gatwick via Ajaccio on 15.02.80, establishing a new single-engined record for a London-Malta flight of 7 hrs 12 min 15 sec.  
DH 60X Moth Lady M. Bailey G-EBSF Lady Bailey departed from Croydon on 09.03.28 on what was meant to be a record-breaking flight between the UK and South Africa. She landed in Malta on the 15th, departing the following day. As apparently was the custom with certain aircraft, Lady Bailey was escorted for a distance of 100 miles by three Royal AF Fairy IIID floatplanes.

Crashed in Tabora, Tanganyika (today’s Tanzania) on 10 April. She eventually continued her journey in another DH 60X, G-EBTG, on the 21st, finally arriving in Cape Town on the 30th.
c/n 415, date of registration, 07.07.27. G-EBTG was c/n 469, registered on 16.11.27. It would be damaged beyond repair after hitting a furniture van when landing at Maylands on 24.08.38.
DH.60X Lt. Richard Reid Bentley G-EBSO Aircraft had departed London on 01.09.27 on a record breaking flight to South Africa. It landed in Malta on the 6th, the pilot staying as a guest of the RAF, departing on the 8th. He eventually landed in Cape Town on the 28th. The 7,250 mile trip was a record for its day, and in 1929 Lt. Bentley was awarded the Britannia Trophy by the Royal Aero Club. Additional information at c/n 419. Crashed at Brooklands, 28.05.32.
DH.80 Puss Moth Arens Control Ltd G-AAXW Arrived on 31.07.30 at 18:00 on a record breaking UK-Malta-UK attempt. Departed back to UK the following day. Aircraft had been fitted with an additional fuel tank in the cabin to permit a non-stop flight between the two countries. Average air speed was 101.8 mph. Partial aircraft history from Regd G-AAXW [CofR 2556] 6.30 to LH Freeman (MD of, and on behalf of, Arens Control Ltd), Heston. CofA 2595 issued 27.6.30. Entered by Roy Faulkner (owner of Arens) in Kings Cup 7.30. Flown on record breaking flight (on Arens behalf) by Capt Charles D Barnard from Lympne-Malta [Hal Far]-Croydon 31.7.30-1.8.30; (13 hrs out; 14.5 hrs back). Also Lympne-Tangier-Croydon 25-26.8.30 (10.30 hours out; 10.55 hrs back).
Fairy Long Range Monoplane Royal AF K1991 Landed on 20.11.31 at 09:00 with 2 crew. Departed on the 25th at 06:30 for Marseilles. Malta Custom records also had registration G-EZAA crossed out. Aircraft history from Ordered by the Air Ministry, the Fairey Long-range Monoplane was built to capture the World's Long-distance Record for Great Britain. Its long-span cantilever wing and large fuel capacity (over 1,000 Imp gal, 4,546 l) provided the remarkable range of over 5,000 mls (8,046 km). The aircraft, s/n J9479, made its initial flight at Northolt in November 1928.

Flown by Squadron Leader A.G. Jones-Williams and Flight Lieutenant N.H. Jenkins, it made the first non-stop 4,130 mls (6,647 km) flight from Cranwell, England to Karachi, India, in 50 hr 37 min, 24 to 26 April, 1929. Attempting to capature the World's Long-distance Record on a flight to South Africa, Jones-Williams and Jenkins again crewed the Fairey aircraft and departed Cranwell in the early hours of December 17, 1929. At 9.40 that evening the aircraft flew into a rocky peak in the Zaghwau district, 12 miles from the Arab village of St. Marie du Zit, Tunisia; both pilots were killed.

A second Fairey Long-range Monoplane was built to Air Ministry Specification 14/30. Serialed K1991, the aircraft, first flown in 1931, differed little from the first except in such refinements as spatted wheels and an automatic pilot. This aircraft, flown by Squadron Leader O. R. Gayford and Flight Lieutenant G.E. Nicholetts, captured the World's Long-distance Record when it flew the 5,309 mls (8,044 km) from Cranwell to Walvis Bay, South Africa, in 57 hr 5 min, on 6 to 8 February, 1933.
L. DL-1A Vega Special Lt. Comm. Glen Kidston G-ABGK Aircraft arrived from Croydon & Naples on 01.04.31 at 09:05, departing for Cairo later at 10:10. It had departed from Netheravon airfield in the UK on a record breaking-flight to Cape Town, South Africa. Routing was via the UK, Naples, Malta, Cairo, Kosti, Malakal, Kisumu, Salisbury, Bulawayo and Pretoria. A forced landing was made at Lichtenburg, Pretoria due to engine trouble, but left for Cape Town later in the day. It landed at Cape Town on the 6th April, after 6 days and 9 hours, and an average speed of 134 mph. c/n 155. Previously NC372E, G-ABFE, G-ABGK, VH-UVK, then A42-1 with the RAAF. The only Vega to be registered in Australia.
Percival Aircraft Proctor IV Richarda Marrow-Taite G-AJMU Arrived on 28.08.48 at 16:00, on a round the world trip, having left the UK on the 18th. Originally intending to complete the trip in 6 weeks, it wouldn’t be until 19 August 1949 that she would actually return to the UK. She experienced a number of mechanical difficulties, culminating in the crash of the Proctor in Alaska following carburetor icing. A replacement aircraft was bought, a BT-13 Vultee Valiant NX54084. c/n H724
Short S11 Valetta Sir Alan Cobham G-AAJY Arrived with 6 crew on 25.07.31 at 09:10 from Rochester? Ajaccio & Tunis. Departed on the 26th at 05:20 to Corfu. G-AAJY was used by Sir Alan Cobham on an extensive survey of the River Nile in July 1931, returning to Southampton water on August 31 after flying 12,500 miles in 128 hours under arduous desert conditions. In 1932 the Valetta was converted to a wheeled undercarriage and tested at Martlesham Heath before being retired to become a radio/airframe training machine at Henlow. c/n S.747. The Valetta was originally designed as a sort of test aircraft to compare the merits of a large twin float seaplane versus a true flying boat (such as the Short Calcutta) when used on the major lakes and rivers of the British Empire. The floats were the largest ever built to that time (40 ft long) and had a displacement of some 12,500 lbs (equivalent to the whole grossed up weight of the whole aircraft).

During its early career, G-AAJY had a couple of incidents as detailed below.

Windscreen failure

During flights with the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Felixstowe, the aircraft suffered from three windscreen failures, as detailed below from a report dated 26.01.31.

On the first occasion the starboard side screen collapsed inwards and in the second occasion the port side screen collapsed, the glass being blown outwards. In a subsequent flight, the centre section of the front screen was blown back on to the pilot’s head, fortunately without injuring him. The aircraft on this occasion was flying at about 128 knots.

The failure of the windscreen appears to be due to the light construction of the framing. The front portion of the screen is formed of three panels of triplex glass and the side screens are made of plate glass of 5/32” thickness.

The vertical members of the screen are formed in the manner shown in the attached sketch. The glass are held in position by a washer plate on the outside and a triangular wooden member on the inside, and they are held together by wood screws. The failure was apparently caused by this member bending under external wind pressure and so causing the wood screws to work loose.

Each side screen consists of two glass plates, sliding horizontally in grooves lined with felt, and apparently the failure of these screens was caused by the framing becoming sufficiently distorted under wind pressure to release the glass.

Short Brothers subsequently reconstructed the whole of the windscreen.

Corroded rivets

Early in its career, corrosion of rivets on the underside of the fuselage was discovered, and in some instances, the corrosion was so bad that the rivets had dropped out.

In a report dated 02.02.31, prepared by the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Felixstowe, considered the cause to be a combination of factors.

The “flow” of this aircraft wasn’t designed for easy removal and as there were no drain plugs at the bottom, the water was not discovered until the rivets had corroded sufficiently to allow the water to leak out.

The door to the luggage compartment, which didn’t fit sufficiently well and wasn’t watertight when closed, was considered the reason for the water gathering at the bottom of the fuselage.

As a result, the Short Brothers company undertook to a) replace the corroded rivets, b) modify the “flow” to make it easily removable for inspection of the bottom and c) modify the door to the luggage compartment to make it watertight.
Vickers 134 Vellore Vickers G-EBYX From the website

Aircraft departed Southampton on 18.09.27 on a UK-Australia proving flight, landing at Malta via Marseilles and Rome on the 20th at 16:30 with 2 crew. Departure was the following day at 08:30. Wing and undercarriage were damaged in a forced landing because of engine problems at Mersa Matruh, Egypt. By 28 April repairs were completed and the aircraft eventually arrived at Cape Don, near Darwin, Australia on 18.05.29, where the aircraft would again suffer a landing accident and be completely wrecked.

( gives crash date as 26 May.)
c/n 1, previously J8906 with RAF.
V. 700 Viscount BOAC G-AMAV Arrived from Hurn via Nice on 05.10.51 at 16:15, departing the following day at 08:35. Final destination Khartoum. Purpose of flight listed as Tropical Trials. Returned from Entebbe on 26.11.51 at 17:10. Departed on the 27th. Landed at Hal-Far on 21.06.52, between 11:40-14:45. Owner now listed as Vickers Armstrong outbound for Lebanon (Inbound GD had “Test flight Scheduled). Again seen between 12-14.09.52 (BE TRNG 1209 as flt no) and on a one day visit on 20.11.52, c/s TRNG 34. Returned for a three-day visit between 02-05.09.54. c/n 3. Aircraft used in the 1953 London – Christchurch air race.
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