G-AVIW

Viscount G-AVIW

Vickers 812 Viscount – c/n 358

With Channel from Mar 1967 to Feb 1972

Compared to most of Channel’s Viscounts, G-AVIW had a rather quiet start with the airline and acted more as a back-up aircraft for the busiest periods during the first part of her Channel career, although being one of the better aircraft in the fleet, she would later be called upon to take over from her stable mates as they began to be removed from service during the late 60s. She would fly her first service to Beauvais from Southend on April 4th and would go on to fly a number of Channel’s summer schedule routes to Barcelona, Basle, Bordeaux, Lyon, Maastrict, Ostend, Palma and Perpignon, making her final flight of the year during October 1967, after which she was withdrawn and stored. In 1968, Channel would begin to concentrate more on flying its I.T charters with its jet aircraft which now operated almost exclusively from Stansted, while propliner services from Southend would slowly begin to decline in number, leaving many of the Viscounts without regular work.

Come the spring of 1968, India Whiskey was not reactivated, although unlike most other Channel Viscounts that once removed from service, would almost certainly go on to face the chop, G-AVIW won a reprieve and would fly again in November after more than a year of being grounded. This reactivation no doubt came as a result of Channel’s impending ‘Scottish Flyer’ service which had already seen a proving flight take place one month earlier and as such, would include India Whiskey in its plans. With the launch of the service on January 20th 1969, IW would get her turn to fly this route on the following day and in doing so, had the distinction of flying the very first return service on the same day, something that Channel’s directors had envisioned from the outset. Although G-AVHK would fly most of the ‘Scottish Flyer’ Viscount services, IW would still fly on the route from time to time whenever the need arose.

Otherwise, India Whiskey had a more active 1969, operating several charter services from Southend to Gerona, Palma and Zurich while this Viscount would on occasion fly out of Stansted and Liverpool too with IW opening the Liverpool to Ostend service on the 31st of May. Needless to say, the old favourites would still see plenty of visits from the Viscount fleet with India Whiskey making a number of trips to Rotterdam and the Channel Islands as well. In June attempts were made to improve services on the Scottish Flyer route and as such, a second daily return service was introduced in the hope that this improved frequency would attract more customers and it would be India Whiskey that was chosen to carry out this extra flight. However, by November, interest in this ‘bus stop’ service was still little more than lukewarm, passenger numbers were painfully low and as such Channel had no alternative but to pull it, IW flying the very last sector on November 28th with just a dozen passengers on board.

The winter would be a quiet one for India Whiskey which made a few flights to Jersey and Rotterdam, although during March 1970, things would pick up dramatically, albeit temporarily when a good number of cross-Channel ferry workers went on strike. All of Channel’s remaining Viscounts and its sole Heron were called upon to transport passengers, non-stop across the Channel in echoes of the airport’s and Channel’s heyday during the early ’60s. A multitude of flights would be made to Jersey, Ostend and Rotterdam over several days until inevitably, the strike finally came to an end. As the summer of 1970 approached, Channel was withdrawing Viscounts rather than preparing them for another busy season, although G-AVIW would be spared an somewhat ignominious retirement to the rear of the airport where most Viscounts invariably went to die. As such, IW would yet again fly to a good number of familiar destinations and a few that were not so familiar.

As the jet services were now Channel’s main source of income, all of the remaining Viscounts would take it in turns to fly passengers in to Stansted from airports such as Edinburgh, Manchester and Teeside, much in the same way that EAFS had initially started out using its Dragon Rapides to ferry in passengers for its Channel hoping Doves, 15 years earlier. Otherwise, Jersey and Ostend were still well and truly on the menu and IW could often be seen plying these routes and on a few, rare occasions, she could even be seen ‘cocking a snook’ at the jet airliners, taking over their services as a result of them going tech, with such an event happening on June 20th, when IW was called upon to replace a Comet which was scheduled to fly a service to Milan. In any event, passenger numbers at Southend would continue to decline further and as 1970 came to a close, while a spirit of optimism remained, the situation was not looking good for the 1971 season.

In fact, it was in 1971 that most of the regular I.T charter flights from Southend would come to an end, although IW would still be called upon to fly several other services such as a small number of flights to Stavanger in July while at other times, she would do her bit attempting to maintain the old Channel Island, Ostend and Rotterdam routes and as the summer and then the winter wore on, India Whiskey engaged in a final hurrah, making a considerable number of fully loaded, Christmas flights to Bournemouth and the three aforementioned destinations. However, with Christmas over, reality would once again bite with a vengeance and scheduled passenger loads would just about climb into double figures, an example of this being India Whiskey’s flight to Rotterdam on January 18th with just 14 passengers turning up for the flight! By the time Channel was facing its impending doom in February 1972, only three Viscounts remained in the Channel fleet. G-AVIW would fly her last service to Jersey on the 6th, while the two remaining Viscounts would soldier on until the end of the month. Indeed, India Whiskey would be one of only two Viscounts to survive the airline’s collapse and go on to serve with another outfit. She was later purchased from the receiver by Alidair and in 1973, would return to Southend on a 6 month lease to BAF.

 

History of G-AVIW

7/58 – 3/67

Continental Air Lines

3/67 – 2/72

Channel Airways

2/72 to 5/72

Kenneth R Cork (Receiver)

5/72 – 10/73

Alidair

(Leased to BAF – 4/73 to 10/73)

10/73 – 2/83

Far Eastern Air Transport

Fate

Sold to Asia Air Services but WFU – 2/83 and later B/U in Taiwan – ?/84

 

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