Viking G-APOP

Vickers 623 Viking C.2 – c/n 177

With Tradair from Aug 1958 to Dec 1962

Viking G-APOP was the first of the ex-Queen’s Flight aircraft to arrive at Southend from RAF Benson on 12th August and was the second to undergo conversion, flying her first service from Southend to Amsterdam on 26th March 1959. From this day forward, Oscar Papa would engage in a good number of summer I.T charters on Tradair’s ever expanding network, taking in such destinations as Barcelona, Basle, Gibraltar, Lyons, Malta, Nice, Ostend, Palma, Pisa, Rome, Tarbes, Treviso and Valencia, with many of these routes continuing up until late September or early October. However, the Christmas period would witness Oscar Papa’s departure from Southend to Stansted where she would carry out a number of traditional winter charters to locations such as Lyons on the 23rd, returning on the 27th. The New Year would also herald in a trip to Barcelona, this taking place on New Year’s Eve.

On May 21st 1960, Oscar Papa would open the first regular IT charter from Southend to Zagreb and over the coming summer flew to many other European airports including Biarritz, Basle, Gibraltar, Oporto, Perpignan, Pisa, Rimini, Treviso and Zurich, while charter work would see her transporting football supporters between Gothenburg and Southend on June 14th. She would also become something of a familiar sight at Manchester where she inaugurated the first flight to Munich on August 2nd. The winter however, was again filled with quiet periods and Oscar Papa would often remain idle for considerable periods of time. Needless to say, the 1961 summer season would see things picking up again and as such, she would be the first Viking to open the new Maastricht route, the implementation of which had initially been planned for 1960.

As a teenager, Roger Crunden took a flight on G-APOP during the summer of 1960 and recounts the experience below… ”At the age of 16, my friend and I had just left school and the first thing we saved up for was a two week holiday in Tossa De Mar on the Costa Brava. We travelled with a package tour company called ‘See Spain Ltd’ and flew on Viking Oscar Papa to Perpignan, France and from there by coach to Tossa. We returned to Southend on the same plane. It was quite a rough flight I recall, confirmed by the pilot when we landed in Perpignan. It was our first flight and trip abroad and was very exciting for us. We didn’t have much money to spend but we enjoyed watching the older girls dance to Bert Kaempfaat music in the warm evening air, although we were too young and shy to mix with them. I recall the courier on our coach to Tossa from the airport got passengers to hide English cigarettes for him as apparently English tourists didn’t like Spanish ones and as such, offered a service to tourists who could buy them when they visited his office. We were not in the Common Market in those days.” 

With thanks to Roger Crunden for the flight information leaflet above.

On May 15th 1961, G-APOP took off for Manchester to collect her passengers and almost 4 hours later landed at Southend to take on yet more customers due to her light load. However, OP was rendered inoperative by a technical fault and the passengers were thus deplaned and instead, made their way to Maastricht aboard G-APOR. Needless to say, she was quickly returned to service and would go on to fly a number of services on this particular route over the following summer. Nineteen Sixty One would also usher in yet more routes with OP inaugurating the first Zaragoza flight on May 12th, although generally, the number of services was down slightly from previous years, especially being as Tradair’s precarious financial situation had resulted in the rejection of a considerable number of routes that had been applied for during the 1961/62 winter period.

During 1961, all three of the APO- registered Vikings would continue to service the I.T routes while the others were reserved mostly for cargo work and ad-hoc charters. As for Oscar Papa, a sign of things to come became apparent when on November 26th 1962, she flew her final service to Le Bourget on behalf of Channel Airways accompanied by Channel Viking G-AHOZ. Less than a month after this, she would be officially transferred to her new owner, although she would not fly again until the following spring.


History of G-APOP

1/47 to 8/58

RAF King’s Flight as VL246

(TFR to RAF Queen’s Flight 5/52)

8/58 to 12/62

Tradair Ltd

12/62 to 5/65

Channel Airways Ltd


WFU at SEN 1/65 and used as a cabin trainer – B/U circa 1/70


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Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.