G-ASDC

G-ASDC early BAF

Aviation Traders ATL.98 Carvair – c/n 7/10273

With BUAF/BAF from Mar 1963 to Apr 1979

Given Names – ‘Pont du Rhin’ ‘Big Louie’ and ‘Plain Jane’

Carvair Delta Charlie began life as a USAAF C-54A-1-DC and later, started her civilian career with California Eastern. However, she would eventuallyCarvair G-ASDC find her way into the hands of ATL via Interocean, arriving at Stansted on August 22nd 1962 as LX-BNG, in part payment for Carvairs that this airline had previously received from this company. Her conversion would take roughly 7 months to complete and then during March 1963, she was handed over to British United Air Ferries as an ATL.98A ferry aircraft and would as such, be the first, new, aircraft of this type to enter service with the airline, the others having previously operated with CAB. Her first revenue flight would take place on March 26th, operating a service between Southend and Rotterdam and for the rest of the ’63 season, she would be put to work flying the cross-Channel ferry services, although other, more interesting work would soon come her way.

Indeed, it was this particular Carvair that would go on to become a veritable star of the silver screen, when she appeared in the James Bond film ‘Goldfinger’. While the movie was destined for a 1964 release, filming actually took place at Southend, almost one year earlier with Sean Connery and ASDC Conneryhis well renowned Aston Martin DB4, spending much of the day filming at the airport. Needless to say, on the film’s debut, British United took the chance to engage Delta Charlie in a number of promotional flights. However, by the end of 1963, this Carvair had departed to Lydd where she would inaugurate both operations by the type and then the long distance routes to Central Europe from March 1964 onwards, although she would still fly the Channel routes too. In fact, it was on such a flight between Lydd and Rotterdam that ASDC suffered her first mishap. On December 4th 1964, while slowly taxiing, her forward gear suddenly collapsed and as a result, she would remain out of service until October 1965.

Having returned to operations, she was later adorned in BUA’s sandstone and blue, a livery that the newly formed entity, British Air Ferries would then later adopt temporarily before refinishing the entire fleet in the now familiar, two tone blue, colourG-ASDC BAF BUA scheme. By early 1967, BUAF had already abandoned the deep penetration routes and thus Delta Charlie now found herself mostly operating the routes between Southend – Calais/Ostend/Rotterdam, although an increasing number of freight flights would come her way too. Then, in February 1970, G-ASDC would suffer yet another, serious incident at Rotterdam, in very similar circumstances to the crash involving G-ARSF that had occurred seven years earlier. Once again, due to snowfall, visibility on the approach was poor and the Carvair once again came in at too steep a descent angle. The nose gear then clipped the runway lights although a quick pull back on the control column prevented the aircraft from sinking further and the Carvair touched down on the runway, albeit without its front wheel.

Thankfully, nobody was injured in this particular accident and the damage, which was limited to the nose gear, front lower fuselage and the two, shock loaded, inner engines was later repaired and Delta Charlie was returned to the air. Services continued as normal, although as car-ferry flights G-ASDC late BAFbegan their slow decline during the early ’70s, Delta Charlie would find herself hauling increasing amounts of freight, although other vehicle services would be implemented too with ASDC being seen loading cars at Coventry during May 1973. Indeed, with the direction that operations were taking, it was decided at the beginning of 1974, to remove this aircraft from service and at Stansted, she was refitted with the larger, 55 seat configuration, while the front part of the fuselage would be reserved primarily for freight or even vehicles, if there should be a sudden rush for such services in the interim. She was then painted up in BAF’s new livery (a very short lived scheme for this aircraft) and by April 1974, she was back in the air.

While her new configuration meant that she could now haul more passengers, the Carvair was no longer a modern aircraft, especially by mid-1975 standards and air travellers would instead, often choose to make their way across the Channel on many of the now ubiquitous and more comfortableCarvair G-ASDC turboprop aircraft that were in operation at the time. Indeed, it was during the middle of 1975 that BAF began to abandon the Carvair for passenger services, while quickly replacing them with Handley Page Heralds. The noisy, smoky and rather utilitarian looking Carvairs were then either slowly disposed of, or converted to pure freighters. As a consequence, Delta Charlie would once more, undergo yet another overhaul, almost a year after she had last been withdrawn from service and as such, had her cabin stripped of all fixtures and fittings, her paintwork taken down to bare metal and most of her windows removed, emerging in February in nothing more than BAF’s logos and titling. Invariably, this work had reduced the weight of the Carvair by more than a ton and as a statement to her new and much improved lifting capacity of 8.5 tons, this was proudly displayed on her vertical stabiliser.

From this point onwards, she was kept busy hauling cargo and occasionally bloodstock the length and breadth of Western Europe and from 1975 to 1979 she was seen frequently at such locations as Amsterdam, Basle, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Paris and Prague, on flights operated from a number of Carvair G-ASDCBritish airports such as Coventry, Gatwick, Glasgow, Luton, Southampton and of course, Southend. She would also operate between Manston and Rotterdam, hauling cargo on behalf of Invicta Airways during November and December 1975. One more livery change would come about in March 1976, when the BAF ‘Bee livery’ stripes that had been adopted by the Herald fleet, were added to the bare, silver airframe, making for a rather attractive colour scheme. Otherwise, operations would continue until December 1978, when she was unofficially withdrawn from service. However, she would still make the odd trip up until April 4th 1979, when she made her final flight for BAF between Brussels and Southend, fully loaded with Ford spares and in the very act, bringing Carvair services at Southend to a sad, yet inevitable end.

The aircraft itself, remained at Southend for another month, during which time it was purchased and then prepared for U.S airline, Falcon Airways as N80FA. It was then that SAAD contributor and well known aviation photographer Richard Vandervord came into the picture and prior to the Carvair and Vitesseaircraft’s departure, took a series of aerial, publicity shots as Richard himself relates Ironically, my camera ship on that photo mission, Cessna 172 G-ATLN, once flew aboard a Carvair itself, when G-ASKN carried it back from Le Touquet on 27/10/67, after being blown over by high winds. However, not content with hauling just this machine that had come about thanks to British engineering, back to the U.S; one of the Falcon party then decided to make Richard an offer for his Triumph Vitesse, an offer that was duly accepted and according to Richard, he was later invited out to Atlanta where he drove the Vitesse on the U.S freeways. Thus, on May 3rd 1979, Southend would see one of its last Carvair movements with N80FA’s departure. She would continue to fly on the North American continent for another 18 years before making a forced landing on a gravel bank near Venetie, Alaska where her remains still slowly decay to this very day.

Carvair N80FAa

History of G-ASDC

3/63 to 10/67

British United Air Ferries

10/67 to 4/79

British Air Ferries

4/79 to 3/80

Falcon Airways as N80FA

3/80 to 10/80

Mercantile Texas Capital

10/80 to 1/83

Nasco Leasing Co

1/83 to 10/87

Kemavia Inc (Re-reg as N103 by lessee Pacific Air Express 4/83)

10/87 to 4/88

Fred L Mason

4/88 to 6/95

Great Southern Airways

6/95 to 4/96

Yesterday’s Wings Inc

4/96 to 6/97

Great Arctic Airways

Fate

Forced landed next to Chandler River after take off from Venetie, Alaska due to engine fire 29/6/97

 

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