G-AOHV/G-BLNB

Viscount G-AOHV

Vickers 802 Viscount – c/n 170

With BAF as G-AOHV from Jan 1981 to June 1984

With BAF/BWA as G-BLNB/G-OPFI from Aug 1985 to May 1999

Given Names – ‘Viscount Winn’ and ‘ Sir Winston Churchill’

With BAF retaining a desire to operate aircraft that could carry larger loads than its Herald fleet came the rather fortuitous opportunity to purchase an entire fleet of ex-British Airways Viscounts that had just recently been withdrawn from service by the airline. As such, a good number of them were procured and Hotel Victor would have the honour of being the very first of eight Viscounts to be delivered from Rhoose to Southend during 1981, flying in on January 16th 1981 as BA9665M. However, unlike most of the other BAF Viscounts, G-AOHV would end up spending three, distinctly separate careers with the airline. Her first as Hotel Victor would see her mostly operating away, on lease, while her second as November Bravo would see her being confined to BAF services and charters. Finally, she would spend the last four years, again on lease, freighting as G-OPFI.

Shortly after arriving, she was pulled into the ATEL hangar where an overhaul and interior refurbishment was carried out on behalf of BA, prior to the formal Viscount G-AOHV Essohandover on February 6th. During this period the aircraft was also painted up in the BAF reverse bee livery and on the day of her handover, HV received her first given name ‘Winn’ as a nod to BAF’s chief training hostess. Two days later, she headed off to work the oil fields of Libya on behalf of Oasis Oil. This lease effectively continued through to August 1982, although she returned to SEN in May 1981 for checks after which she temporarily operated BAF’s routes during June, before making her way back to Tripoli again in the first week of July. September would then see her going off on sub-lease to Esso Standard Oil and sometime during this period she returned to Southend, possibly for further engineering work. However by October, she was back with Oasis where she would remain until the late summer of the following year.

By August 1982, she was back at Southend where she spent the next nine months working for her G-AOHV Euroowner, until finally being sold to Polar Airways in March 1983. However, financial problems eventually resulted in the collapse of this airline and by April, the aircraft was sitting idle at Teesside Airport. She was however returned to BAF in July, although she would not re-enter service and by the following month she had been leased off to Euroair who eventually purchased the aircraft in June 1984. It wouldn’t be until August 1985, that this Viscount would begin her second stint with BAF although this time as G-BLNB. She continued to fly in the Euroair livery for several months after her purchase although by February of the following year, she stood resplendent in the new red, white and blue ‘British’ livery.

While she may have looked like a shiny new pin, this was not to last when the following month, she G-BLNBinadvertently made a wheels up landing at SEN primarily due to the failure of the landing gear hydraulic activator (see ‘Prangs’ for more details). Needless to say, with four shock loaded engines and a badly scraped underside, she would remain out of service for three months while the damage was repaired. However, by the beginning of June she was back in the air and was seen operating freight runs to Birmingham during July and passenger flights on the Manchester – Channel Island service in August, although this return to operations would also be short lived when in August, she departed for Exeter where she would undergo a major overhaul to her fuselage and systems.

The year 1987 would see her back on form, flying a good number of passenger services around the country and to Europe. By the summer she wasbaf-visc-g-blnb-3rd-rwb working the routes to Ostend and Jersey from a multitude of British airports. As such, this kind of work naturally included other passenger and freight charters which would continue through to July 1990 when Hotel Victor was sent north to Aberdeen to help out on the Sumburgh oil charter route. By this time, she had also received the last of the red, white and blue BAF liveries. In March 1992, NB was wfu and would not be reactivated again until May 1993. She was then transferred into the ownership of the reorganised British World and would be one of only two Viscounts to receive the extremely attractive, burgundy and white ‘Leaping Lion’ livery, although for November Bravo, this would turn out to be very short lived indeed.

By 1994, the Royal Mail had starting leasing BAF Viscounts to work their Parcelforce services mostly from G-OPFICoventry. Five aircraft in total would be converted into freighters and in the process receive a post office red livery, while four would also be given new registrations. So in March 1994, the former G-BLNB emerged as G-OPFI and for the next four years would do nothing but operate these parcel services on behalf of her lessor. In fact it wasn’t until January 8th 1998 that her final flight would come and she was summarily ferried to Southend from Belfast and put into open storage. She sat outside on the north side for more than a year until finally, a buyer came forward in the form of Airwing 2000. Somewhat ironically, while being the first BAF Viscount to arrive at the airport, she would also be the last to leave and on June 17th 1999, she made the last flight ever by a Viscount from Southend.

 

History of G-AOHV/G-BLNB/G-OPFI

7/57 to 4/74

B.E.A

4/74 to 3/80

British Airways

3/80 to 1/81

Stored at Cardiff, Wales

1/81 to 6/84

BAF

6/84 to 8/85

Euroair

8/85 to 5/99

BAF/BWA

5/99 to 9/99

Airwing 2000

9/99 to 10/01

Interflight as 3D-PFI

10/01 to 11/02

Transtel as 5V-TTP

11/02 to 7/03

Ivory Coast Government as TU-VAB

7/03 to 1/09

Pegasus Aviation as 3D-PFI

1/09 to 1/11

Global Airways as 9Q-COD

WFU at Lubumbashi 1/09 and never flew again

1/11 to c.2014

GTRA Airways

Fate

Was for sale in Lubumbashi, Congo and visible on Google Earth until 8/14. However, since then she has vanished from sight and it is thus highly likely that she has been scrapped.

 

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