Macedonian Aviation

Dove G-APZU

Based at Southend from Nov 1972 to Nov 1974

Founder/Director – Mr Roger Byron-Collins

Macedonian’s earliest roots stem from residential property concern Macedonian Securities which was formed in 1969.  Having been brought up as the son of an RAF Officer who, after leaving Bomber/Strike Command went on to fly Doves and Pembrokes (on occasion for Harold Wilson), company director Roger Byron-Collins quite naturally developed a passion for aviation and as such, gained something of an affinity for the Devons and Doves, plus the C-47/DC-3s that were still in service at the time. At the tender age of 17 and still living with his parents at RAF Northolt, Roger decided to take his P.P.L. at nearby Denham Airfield although here he almost came a cropper and thus decided to put things on hold for a short while and instead concentrated on the procurement, development and renovation of ex-military housing, a business that he is still heavily involved with today.

Sufficed to say, it wasn’t long before Roger purchased his first aircraft which was initially based at Luton during the late summer of 1972. The aircraft was then leased to McAlpine Engineering operating under their operating certificate for ad-hoc charter work although other charters were also flown, some of which during November included ferrying around Michael Jackson along with the other four members of The Jackson Five & later The Osmonds all of whom were at the time touring the U.K. Two further contracts were subsequently procured through Harry Chang, a former pilot of the now defunct Lloyd International and as such Macedonian was established as an airline that started transporting Capri parts for the Ford Motor Company between Dusseldorf & Dagenham via Southend and somewhat later, North Sea oil rig workers on behalf of Conoco. On obtaining their operating certificate, the C.A.A. chairman Lord Boyd-Carpenter commented on the fact that Mr. Collins must have been one of the youngest persons in British aviation history to have been awarded an A.O.C.

The Dove was initially used to fly charters around Europe to such destinations as Copenhagen, Hamburg and Oslo from both Luton and Southend although she also became heavily involved on routes to the Benelux countries and Germany during the winter of 1972. In the meantime, the airline’s second aircraft had arrived in the form of DC-3 G-AMPO, a 30-seat workhorse of an aircraft that had previously been employed to transport engineers between the two Concorde production facilities of Filton in the U.K. and Toulouse in France. After her procurement she was sent to Eagle Air Services for painting while pre-service checks and crew training was handled by Dan-Air at Lasham. As a result of this, this aircraft made numerous trips to both Gatwick & Southend during this time.

However, this wasn’t to be this DC-3s biggest claim to fame. Just after the tragic massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, G-AMPO was dispatched to undertake the daring extraction of Roger’s business partner who had just married an Indian diplomat’s daughter in Beirut where the Israelis had just initiated their response against the terrorist group responsible for this atrocity. Harry Chang (now Macedonian’s chief pilot) was familiar with the city and after a call from Roger, he advised that the party remain on the beach after which he proceeded to make a 12 hour flight via Genoa and Brindisi before finally making a quick touchdown at the airport under Israeli military escort. The 26 strong wedding party quickly clambered over the airport fence and ran to the still running aircraft which then departed for Cyprus (still under escort) where quite naturally the celebrations resumed. The aircraft, along with Roger and Harry then returned to Gatwick two days later.

With this adrenaline fuelled episode over, the Dakota was summarily despatched to Southend, the first fare paying service being operated to Amsterdam on November 5th. She was then joined by the Dove on November 24th and both continued to ply the routes from Southend to the Channel Islands, Amsterdam, Brussels and Ostend during the winter of 1972 & 1973. Needless to say, the work didn’t let up and by the following spring, the Dove had departed to a new owner while G-AMPO was left to fly the almost daily services to Jersey, Ostend, Brussels and Saarbrucken. Charter work also took the DC-3 on a Groningen – Bergen – Birmingham – Brussels – Southend jaunt on May 3rd 1973.  By the summer, Macedonian was heavily engaged with domestic routes which included Southend – Castle Donnington – Stornaway and Coventry – Jersey, while  European route Birmingham – Cologne was also part of its schedule.

Going into the winter of 1973, this venerable Dakota was spending a great deal of its time operating passenger flights for Intra Airways plus cargo services for companies such as Ford, not to mention gold bullion flights for the Treasury between London and Belgium/France/Germany. Finally, in December Macedonian procured its first oil-rig support contract and G-AMPO was sent north to Aberdeen to maintain it. Obviously, with so much work on their books something needed to be done and in March 1974, two more aircraft were acquired from British Island Airways (namely G-AMHJ & G-AMRA) and being as both had convertible passenger/cargo cabins, they were despatched to Aberdeen on April 27th. Indeed, this resulted in Aberdeen effectively becoming Macedonian’s second base of operations and now that enough equipment was available, G-AMPO was returned to SEN to maintain the Continental flights.

One further ex-BIA aircraft would join the fleet in September (G-AMSV), but just as everything was going so swimming well, the oil companies dropped a bombshell by stipulating that they now wanted their crews to be transported by turboprop aircraft rather than piston engined types. As a result, Macedonian looked into procuring Viscounts from either Aer Lingus or Air Canada, while Eastern Provincial Heralds were considered too. Ultimately, negotiations fell through while the cost projections were also considered to be too great and on November 6th 1974, the aircraft returned to Southend and the airline along with its assets were sold off as a going concern. Sadly, the Macedonian name quickly disappeared while the oil contract later went to the Viscount equipped Alidair. Somewhat ironically though, this contract eventually returned to a Southend based airline after BAF bought out Guernsey Airlines along with these routes, due to the collapse of the aforementioned Alidair.

With thanks to Roger Byron-Collins for providing much of the information above.

 

Macedonian Highlights…

Jun 1972

Macedonian is registered as an airline and starts flying from Luton

Nov 1972

The airline moves its base to Southend from where it begins operations primarily to the near-Continent

Feb 1973

The Dove is sold and Macedonian becomes an all DC-3/C-47 operator

Apr 1973

Regular services begin between Southend and Jersey/Ostend

Charters include visits to Birmingham, Cologne, Coventry and Jersey

Macedonian takes over the Dutch Limburg Airlines route between Rotterdam & Le Havre

May 1973

Ad-hoc charters include flights to Bergen, Birmingham, Brussels and Groningen

Sep 1973

Charters undertaken on behalf of Intra Airways between Jersey and Cambridge

Nov/Dec 1973

A large number of charters are undertaken on behalf of Intra Airways to destinations such as Aberdeen, Brussels, Calais, Cologne, Coventry, Exeter, Geneva, Glasgow, Jersey, Lisbon, Malta, Marseilles, Newcastle and Saarbrucken

Macedonian has to lease another C-47 from Intra to keep up with its busy schedule

Mar 1974

Two more C-47s are purchased by the airline arriving at SEN on the 8th

Apr 1974

Two Dakotas arrive at Aberdeen to carry out oil contract charters

Apr/May 1974

The charter season begins again and flights are carried out to Amsterdam, Belfast, Gibraltar, Hamburg, Hurn, Le Havre, Lisbon, Newcastle, Ostend, Rotterdam, Saarbruken and Teeside

Jun/Jul 1974

The bulk of Macedonian’s work consists of oil contract work between Sumburgh and Aberdeen

Sep 1974

Macedonian buys a fourth C-47, however this aircraft never flies for the airline

Nov 1974

Unable to buy turboprop aircraft for their oil charters the airline is closed down and its assets are sold off

 

Macedonian fleet while based at SEN

Macedonian flew their aircraft in two distinct liveries – ‘yellow and orange’ which was used by its Southend based aircraft and ‘green and yellow’ for those based at Aberdeen.
 

D.H.104 Dove

G-APZU – 6/72 to 2/73

Sold to Fairflight

Douglas DC-3/C-47

G-AMHJ – 3/74 to 11/74

Sold to Humber Airways Ltd

G-AMPO – 8/72 to 11/74

Sold to Humber Airways Ltd

G-AMPZ – 11/73 to 12/73

Leased from Intra Airways

G-AMRA – 3/74 to 11/74

Sold to Humber Airways Ltd

G-AMSV – 9/74 to 18/74

Sold to Humber Airways Ltd

 

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