British Midland Airways

Viscount G-AZLS

Has Operated from Oct 1938 to Present

Main Bases – Derby and later East Midlands Airport

Founder/Director – Wing Commander Roy Harben

British Midland Airways’ origins stem back to pre-war times when in 1938, this airline was founded as Air Schools Ltd. It began services from Derby Airport just before the war began and continued to train pilots throughout the wartime period. With the cessation of hostilities, ASL then became Derby Aviation and later Derby Airlines before eventually reforming as British Midland Airways in 1964. Needless to say, it wasn’t long until BMA started flying to SEN and from 1965, the airline would run irregular charters through the airport with DC-3, DC-4 and Herald equipment. In 1970, BMA began to involve itself with European I.T and transatlantic charters although it wasn’t long before these routes were abandoned and the airline subsequently went back to concentrating on scheduled European and domestic flights.

It wasn’t until March 1972 that BMA finally became a regular, weekly visitor to SEN offering flights from Southend/Bournemouth (Hurn) to both Jersey and Guernsey. These routes had previously been flown by Channel Airways which had gone into receivership during the same month and as a consequence, this airline became the ‘caretaker’ for these flights until being awarded the licence officially in July. It would fall to Viscount G-APNE to fly the very first service on these re-established routes and over the next few years, this aircraft type would become a regular sight on the Southend apron at weekends, although the Viscounts would eventually find themselves being increasingly supplemented by Heralds from April 1974 onwards. In fact, BMA continued to fly these routes until the very end of 1978 with even the odd DC-9 turning up at the airport, the first of these appearing in the spring of 1977.

The BMA presence at SEN would not continue at the same level however and in January 1979, these Channel Island routes were handed over to British Island Airways, although it is rumoured that BMA did actually continue to fly these services on behalf of BIA something that they had previously done on other BIA domestic routes. However, exactly one year later in January 1980, BIA and a number of associate airlines were reorganised as Air UK and from late 1980, these routes were taken over by this airline (you can read more about this on the ‘Air UK’ page). Coincidentally, a small number of the BMA Viscounts and Heralds that flew the C.I routes from SEN would eventually find a new lease of life with Southend airlines.

 

British Midland Airways Fleet from 1965 to 1978

(Includes only those aircraft that were likely to have been seen at SEN)

Douglas C-47/DC-3

G-APBC*– 10/64 to 5/68

Sold to South West Aviation

G-AMSX – 10/64 to 3/66

Sold to Guyana Airways as VP-GCF

Douglas C-54/DC-4

G-ASEN*– 2/69 to 7/69

Sold to Invicta International

G-ASPM – 2/69 to 7/69

Sold to Invicta International

Vickers Viscount

G-APND*– 1/69 to 11/73

Sold to British Aircraft Corp

G-APNE*– 4/67 to 9/72

Sold to ARKIA as 4X-AVE

G-ASED*– 2/67 to 5/72

Sold to Alidair

G-AVJB*– 7/67 to 12/76

Sold to Intra Airways

G-AYOX*– 4/78 to 8/86

Fuselage sold to British Air Ferries for spares use

G-AZLP*– 1/72 to 5/86

WFU – To CAA as fire trainer – Nose at Brooklands

G-AZLR*– 1/72 to 5/83

WFU – Used at East Midlands as a crew trainer

G-AZLS*– 1/72 to 5/86

Sold to BAe

G-AZLT*– 1/72 to 5/86

Sold to BAe

G-AZNA*– 2/72 to 5/86

Sold to BAe

G-AZNB*– 3/72 to 5/86

Sold to BAe

G-AZNC*– 3/72 to 5/86

Sold to BAe and used as a fire trainer by CAA

G-BAPD*– 2/72 to 1/79

Scrapped at East Midlands

G-BAPE*– 2/72 to 3/80

Sold to Express Air Services

G-BAPF*– 2/72 to 5/86

Sold to BAe

G-BAPG*– 2/73 to 1/81

Sold to Southern International Air Transport

G-BCZR*– 5/76 to 9/77

Leased from Field Aircraft Services (Ret to FAS bet 10/76 & 5/77)

G-BFZL*– 3/79 to 5/86

Sold to British Aerospace but leased back bet 5/86 & 11/88

Handley Page Herald

G-ASKK*– 2/65 to 2/67

Sold to British United Airways

G-ASVO*– 3/73 to 1/77

Sold to British Air Ferries

G-ATIG*– 4/73 to 1/77

Sold to Brymon Airways

G-BAVX*– 4/73 to 1/77

Sold to British Air Ferries

Douglas DC-9

G-BMAH – 9/77 to 12/95

Sold to Intercontinental De Aviacion as HK-4056X

N48075 – 2/78 to 6/78

Leased from Southern Airways

N65358*– 8/76 to 3/93

Purchased and re-reg as G-BFIH 4/78

 

Do you have any other, interesting snippets of information about this airline’s SEN history or indeed, any pictures or paraphernalia that you would like to share? If so, then please contact us on saadinfomail@gmail.com

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.