The ‘End Of An Era’ For The Queen Of The Skies
A chapter of British Aviation History closed yesterday when the last flying Vickers VC10 (ZA147) landed at a county airstrip. On 25TH September 2013, following a farewell flight from RAF Brize Norton, VC10 ZA147 arrived at Bruntingthorpe where it has retired after 47 years of exceptional service.
The VC10 is a long-range British airliner designed and built by Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd. The airliner was designed to operate on long-distance routes with a high subsonic speed and also be capable of hot and high operations from African airports. The initial concept of the VC10 was to provide a jet-powered airliner that could comfortably make use of the shorter runways commonly in use at the time. The performance of the VC10 was such that it achieved the fastest crossing of the Atlantic (London to New York) by a jet airliner, a record still held to date for a sub-sonic airliner; only the supersonic Concorde was faster. It was first flown at Brooklands, Surrey, in 1962, the same area where ZA150 landed for the final time on 24th September 2013 and will go on display at the VC10 Exhibition at Brooklands Museum.
Group Captain Steve Lushington, Station Commander of RAF Brize Norton who landed VC10 ZA147, provided some words following arrival into Bruntingthorpe. He said:
"This aircraft has such a fantastic history, its a world record holder and been involved in operations around the globe. There was a weepy eye on the flight deck from many of the crew, it was very poignant day but today should be a celebration of everything the VC10 has done, a quite incredible service history.
“I feel very privileged today. When I look back in my retirement and flick through the pages of my log book it will be with big smiles and fond memories.”
The Captain of the final flight was Flight Lieutenant Paul Smith who said:
"The weather was right on the limits of visual flying and we had to work very hard to get in here. I was 24 years old as a fresh faced Flying Officer when I first walked up the steps of a VC10 and I'll be 52 in February so you can guess what it means to me, a bit of a bereavement. But she deserves a rest, she's served us very well.”
Following the retirement of the VC10, No. 101 Squadron continue their legacy, remaining at the forefront of RAF Air-to-Air Refuelling and Air Transport, flying the RAFs newest aircraft ‘Voyager’.
Editor: Sqn Ldr Eklund / Sara Chubb
Photographs: Sqn Ldr Eklund
The crew of VC10 K3 serial ZA147 pose at Bruntingthorpe, Leics, after the last ever landing by a VC10.
VC10 K3 serial ZA147 lands at Bruntingthorpe, Leics, the last ever landing by a VC10.
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2013