De Havilland D.H.104 Dove 1B – c/n 04044

With Channel from May 1955 to Jan 1958

Of the six Doves that were purchased by Channel and put into service, the first batch of three would arrive during 1954/55 while the second batch would not arrive until two years later in 1957. As far as Charlie Echo was concerned, she would be the last of the first batch to arrive at Southend on May 3rd 1955 where she was almost immediately sent for conversion to a 1B aircraft. Her first commercial service came on June 11th, when she flew a number of passengers between Southend and Jersey and for the most, she would along with the other Doves, gradually replace the vintage Dragon Rapides on EAFS’/Channel’s premier routes to Le Bourget and the Channel Islands. While this Dove would make her last flight of 1955 on October 30th, her year came to a rather auspicious end when she was placed on display in front of Southend’s control tower a few days earlier on the 18th, the day that the new car-ferry terminal was opened to great fanfare in the presence of a number of VIPs.

However in contrast, 1956 would not start well for Charlie Echo and on her first flight of the season she suffered engine trouble while making headway for Shoreham and thus quickly turned back to Southend where she made an uneventful landing. However, she was quickly back in service and spent the rest of the summer plying the routes between Southend and Le Bourget/the Channel Islands and Southend – Ostend via Shoreham. She would also have the honour of inaugurating Channel’s very first, nightly freight service which took place on June 3rd flying between Croydon and Dusseldorf with newspapers and other periodicals, this contract continuing through to October. October 1956 would also bring with it a new destination – namely Rotterdam with Dove G-AOCE flying the very first Channel service to this new airport and would along with Dove G-AOBZ, continue to fly these services once and sometimes twice daily during the winter.

The following year would continue in much the same fashion and with operations becoming more intense, a further three Doves and a Bristol Wayfarer would be added to the fleet during 1957. With enough aircraft to now maintain the hectic schedule, two Doves including G-AOCE were dispatched to Portsmouth for the summer where they they would make themselves busy hauling passengers back and forth between this airfield and the Channel Islands. As the autumn approached Charlie Echo would again head back to Southend and resume flying both the feeder routes between Southend and Ipswich until late October and the cross-Channel routes with the Rotterdam service still being in particular demand during the otherwise bleak and reasonably quiet winter months.

It was on a return trip from Rotterdam on January 15th 1958, that disaster would befall this Dove after being forced to divert to Lydd due to fog at Southend. The aircraft made two attempts to land at the airfield, however during the third approach, it would appear that mismanagement of the fuel systems inadvertently resulted in fuel starvation and as a result, both engines spluttered into silence in quick succession. The approach would take her over Dungeness Beach and this was where the stricken, powerless Dove would finally make a forced landing. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries among the seven occupants although the pilot did sustain a number of non-life threatening injuries. The aircraft itself however, suffered serious damage to its forward fuselage while one of the main wings had also detached during the landing, basically writing the aircraft off. Charlie Echo was quickly removed from the beach and scrapped.


History of G-AOCE

?/?? to 5/55

West African Airways as VR-NAB

5/55 to 1/58

Channel Airways


DBR in forced landing on Dungeness Beach 15/1/58


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