Hawker Siddeley H.S.121 1E-140 Trident – c/n 2136

With Channel from May 1968 to Dec 1971

It was no doubt with wide-eyed surprise, that the airline and aviation industry reacted to the Channel Airways £8 million order for five Hawker Siddeley Tridents in 1967. Having long been established as a primarily budget operation, the purchase of such aircraft was a massive departure from Channel’s well known policy of buying rugged airliners that were generally cheap, easy to maintain and relatively simple to operate. Indeed, while the Trident would not go on to become a commercial success, thanks to most British aircraft manufacturer’s penchant for constructing their products to the demands of the national carriers rather than the international market, this aircraft nevertheless heralded in a number of new and innovative features such as the world’s first automated landing system (although to save costs, this would not be fitted to Channel’s aircraft) while it was also one of the first to be equipped with the anti-stall, stick shaker mechanism. Sufficed to say, for the time it was a complicated machine to both maintain and operate, making Channel’s decision to buy them a somewhat curious one.

However, this procurement more than likely came about due to three factors: 1) Channel’s ongoing attempt to keep up with its competitors which was partially achieved by operating more modern equipment 2) The fact that these Tridents were some of the last 1 series airframes to come off of the production line and as such, Hawker Siddeley seemingly had no issue with disposing of them at a heavily reduced price and 3) Channel being offered a new, 7 across ‘family’ seating option in the forward part of the cabin that would enable these Tridents to carry 139 passengers rather than the standard 115. So on May 10th 1968, Trident Yankee Bravo became the first of two aircraft to arrive at Southend, the same day incidentally as one of its newly purchased 1-11s – G-AWEJ; although this was actually a pre-delivery flight, rather than the official handover which would take place at Stansted on May 31st. On June 1st she took to the air on her first service for the airline and would henceforth spend a good deal of her time flying from Stansted or airports on the Continent.

By the spring of 1968, Channel was advertising Trident flights from both Southend and Stansted and while a number of shorter flights were flown from SEN, this aircraft which was renowned for being something of a ground hugger was along with the 1-11s, moved to Stansted or to foreign airports such as Berlin, where during the summer of 1969, she would haul German tourists to their favourite Mediterranean destinations. One further item of interest in this aircraft’s history took place during the winter of 1970-71. With little work to sustain her, YB headed off across the Atlantic and is likely to have been the only British Trident to have ever done so. Her remit was to act as a demonstrator to both South American and on her return, West African countries where Hawker Siddeley hoped to sell their new Trident 3 airliner that was currently coming off of the production line. After her return in the spring, she went back into service while her sister ship G-AVYC was withdrawn to provide her with a source of spares. YB continued to fly until October 24th 1971 when she made a final positioning flight into Southend where she would be stored until being sold two months later.


History of G-AVYB

5/68 to 12/71

Channel Airways

12/71 to 4/76

Northeast Airlines

4/76 to 5/81

British Airways (TFR due to merger)


WFU at Heathrow 8/80 – B/U 5/81


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