Bristol 307 Britannia – c/n 12921

With Air Charter from Sep 1958 to Jul 1960

Being the first and only one of two turboprop powered aircraft to join Air Charter, Britannia G-ANCE gave the airline its first, truly intercontinental, long distance aircraft. While its Tudors had been making regular trips between the U.K. and Australia since the mid-50s, these were effectively carried out at a snail’s pace when compared to the Britannia which could fly almost twice as fast while making fewer refuelling stops. However, it was by late-1950s standards, the ‘vast’ passenger loads that initially tempted Air Charter to trial and then purchase two of these aircraft which were primarily reserved to fly their lucrative trooping charters. So, after conversion to a 307 series aircraft at Belfast and then a few days of pre-delivery checks at Filton on September 12th 1958, Air Charter took possession of G-ANCE and she finally touched down at Southend on the 17th. The next few days were spent crew training from Filton, flying to several U.K. airports such as Elmdon where she made a number of I.L.S. approaches.

Over the next few years, this Britannia could be seen worldwide at both large and obscure airports alike and as such, made her first transatlantic crossing on a proving flight to New York on September the 27th, while her inaugural revenue service involved the first of a number of trips to a much smaller airfield, the first of these involving Charlie Echo trooping to Christmas Island via Goose Bay and Honolulu on October 1st 1958. In November and December, she would mostly head off in the opposite direction, making a good number of transatlantic trips to Canada, being spotted a several military airfields including Gander and Goose Bay while also making the odd stop at Keyflavik during the course of her trooping duties, although a trip to Bahrain on November 2nd temporarily reversed this trend.

In the new year, she was back in the U.K. and was spotted at Filton on January 12th 1959, where she carried out a day of crew training. By February, she was once more heading east, first to Bahrain on the 19th and then to Australia on the 26th, before heading back via Christmas Island, San Francisco and Montreal completing what was to be the first, round-the-world trip for the aircraft captained by no other than the well renowned Bob Langley. By this time, Air Charter had been taken over by Airwork although as far as this Britannia was concerned, little would change duty wise. In fact during March a second Britannia would join the fleet and as such, these aircraft continued to carry out their trooping commitments and a number of long distance, ad-hoc charters too. The summer would see a glut of trooping flights being made to Nicosia and Cyprus accompanied by ACL’s sole remaining, freight bearing Tudor while later in October, Charlie Echo made another long distance trip to South East Asia via Istanbul, returning via Libya several days later.

Some examples of further work carried out by this aircraft included a visit to Karachi at the end of June 1959 while just over a week later, she would haul a full load of passengers from the Belgian Congo to Brussels. Being such a large aircraft, this Britannia would for the most operate from ACL’s base at Stansted although she would still pop in to Southend from time to time, especially for avionics and engineering work. However, by the late summer of 1960, Air Charter was no more and as a consequence of this, the Britannias were repainted and absorbed into British United’s fleet.


History of G-ANCE

1/58 to 9/58

Bristol Aircraft Co

9/58 to 7/60

Air Charter Ltd

7/60 to 2/69

British United Airways

6/66 to 6/73

Lloyd International Airways

6/73 to 5/74

Monarch Airlines

5/74 to 5/81

Aer Turas as EI-BAA


WFU at Dublin 4/79 and B/U by 6/81


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