De Havilland D.H.104 Dove 1B – c/n 04127

With EAFS/Channel from May 1955 to Apr 1970

G-AOBZ was the second of the De Havilland Doves to arrive at Southend from West African Airways on April 24th 1955. She was effectively towed straight into the hangar and given as much of an overhaul as Channel could provide, after which she was then sent to De Havilland’s for conversion to 1B standard, arriving back at Southend almost a month after she had first arrived. She would make her first commercial flight for the airline five days later on May 28th flying from Southend to Jersey via Shoreham and back. By the summer, the three Doves had gradually begun to usurp the routes operated by the Dragon Rapides and as a result, they became a more frequent sight on the longer distance services to Jersey and Le Bourget. However, with the onset of October came the seasonal slow down, although G-AOBZ would fly her last service of the year several weeks earlier on September 20th. Returning from Guernsey, she landed at Southend only for her nose gear to collapse, damaging part of her fuselage in the process.

By May 29th 1956, Bravo Zulu had been repaired and took to the air again on a short test flight. She then began to earn her keep the following day making the first trip of the year to Ostend accompanied by G-ANVU. Indeed, 1956 would see the Doves completely taking over the premier routes with G-AOBZ spending much of her season servicing Ostend, Paris and the Channel Islands. However, other work also waited in the wings too and from June onwards, all three Doves would fly a small number of night flights carrying newspapers to Dusseldorf on behalf of Transair. The beginning of October also witnessed the opening of a new service to Rotterdam which unlike the other routes, would enable the airline to continue operations throughout the winter, G-AOBZ being one of two Doves chosen to keep this service going from October 1956 through to March 1957.

In 1957, three more Doves and Channel’s very first Bristol 170 turned up at Southend, this B170 being the passenger variant which was more commonly known as the ‘Wayfarer’. However, with the arrival of the latter aircraft, Bravo Zulu would suffer a somewhat ignominious, albeit temporary demotion and was for a short time relegated to the feeder routes, bringing in passengers for this much larger and more capable Bristol machine. However, her eventual return to normal services would be short lived. In May she suffered yet another mishap when she struck a small indentation in the ground during take-off at Portsmouth resulting in further damage to the aircraft. While she would miss some of the summer while repairs were effected, she would again go on to fly the winter Rotterdam services, although at a reduced rate compared to the previous year.

With the disposal of one Dove in October and the loss of another in January 1958, Bravo Zulu’s role in the airline would once again become more important, despite the arrival of another B170 and two Vickers Vikings. In fact, with the exception of the addition of Antwerp in October, 1958 would more or less see a repeat of the 1957 season with the Doves once again being the only aircraft to operate during the winter period. However, come the spring of 1959, the larger aircraft took to the air again and G-AOBZ found herself being withdrawn. She then sat idle at SEN for more than a year before being restored to service at the end of July 1960. In fact, this year had seen even more aircraft arrive in the form of more Vikings which left the Doves for feeder route work, particularly between Southend and Ipswich and Portsmouth and Shoreham while the odd charter was flown from time to time too.

As time went by, Bravo Zulu would once more find herself being reduced to a minor roll within the airline and as a consequence of this she was invariably used to fly low yield feeder routes and off-peak services until once more being withdrawn in 1961. Again, she remained grounded for an extended period and remained so until March 1963, when she replaced the tired G-ANVU on the Ostend and Rotterdam off-peak services during the winter, while taking up the roll of feeder airliner for the smaller routes to Southend. In essence, this is how she would continue until her final withdrawal during April 1965, her very last flight being a return trip from Guernsey on the 20th. However, rather than being sold off she would remain with the airline, becoming a source of spares for the eternal G-ANVU and as such, ended up languishing at Southend for another 5 years where she slowly became derelict and finally ending her life there in April 1970.


History of G-AOBZ

?/?? to 5/55

West African Airways as VR-NIL

5/55 to 4/70

EAFS/Channel Airways

(WFU at Southend 4/65)


B/U at Southend 4/70


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