BOAC and BEA reminiscences, memorabilia and history
About the charity 'Practical Action'
Foreword by Sir Ross Stainton, former Chairman of BOAC
Review of background to airline experiences and recollections
airport and airline memoirs about the far east - from India and the Seychelles to Japan
Bangladesh - All Together Now! by John Anderson (1973)
john anderson
Bangladesh - Memories of Dhaka, by Simon Watts (1981-1985)
Life and Work in Bangladesh
Bangladesh - Days in the life of a new Station Manager, by Jim Mackison (1976 - 1980)
Turbulent times in a challenging environment
Burma - Lighting Up Time, by Gerry Catling (1954)
an airport story - cigars as insect repellent
Burma - The Day of the Dear Departed (1954), by Gerry Catling
memories of a delicate diplomatic exercise with BOAC in Burma
Burma, etc. - Britannias, by Alan Douglas
recollections of the Bristol Britannia in service with BOAC
Burma -The Sound Barrier, by Tony Russell (1972)
Dealings with the civil aviation authorities in Rangoon
Burma - The Fertiliser Factory, by David McCormack (1972)
memoirs of an airline manager - going the extra mile in customer service...
Burma - Cigars, Religion and Superstition, by Peter Jones (1975)
Meeting the Burmese People
Burma - Special Adviser to the Manager, by Peter Jones (1975)
attending a funeral in Rangoon
Burma - Burmese Days, by Peter Jones (1975)
a visit to Mandalay and the temples of Pagan
China - Learning Chinese by Ralph Glazer (1983)
Meeting CAAC
China - Scotland the Brave by Ralph Glazer (1985)
burns night
India - Holy Cow, by Ralph Glazer (1964)
Obstruction on the runway...
India - Delhi (Not) Singing in the Rain, by Ralph Glazer (1964)
Monsoon (and its Cargo) Close airport
India - The Morning Commuter, by Peter Fieldhouse (1970)
Getting to the office in Calcutta
Japan - The Mount Fuji Disaster, by James Wilson (1966)
a retrospective view of the management of the aftermath of a major air crash
Pakistan - Yaqoob and Musaleem, by Peter Liver (1987)
fond memories of two aged retainers
Philippines - Cutting it Fine, by David Hogg (1970)
memoir of the chaos to civil aviation caused by a typhoon in Manila
Philippines - Being British, by David Hogg (1969)
reactions to an earthquake
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) - The Day my Number (almost) Came up, by Gerry Catling (1960)
memories of a BOAC Comet 4 landing on a wet runway..
Seychelles Days, by Mike McDonald (1974-1977)
An island idyll..civil aviation (and British Airways) arrive in the Seychelles
airport and airline reminiscences and memorabilia in the Middle East
Abu Dhabi - Ice Cold in Abu Dhabi, by Graham Moss (1970)
keeping VC-10 passengers cool on the ground
Abu Dhabi - Sand Trap, by David Hogg (1972)
hazards of driving in the desert
Dubai - a Training Posting, by Peter Liver (1970)
Bahrain - The Traffic Manual Expert, by David Meyrick (1962)
an air cargo problem - loading a BOAC DC7F
Bahrain - The Thunderstorm, by Ron Colnbrook (1968)
a scary flying story
Iran - The Nosewheel Incident, by Alan Hillman (1965)
a problem on the runway in Tehran
Iran - Hold Five, by Brian Cannadine (1972)
Teheran Airport - animal alert!
Israel - Cultural Differences, Mike McDonald (1972)
airline tales from Tel Aviv
Kuwait in the Fifties by Jamil Wafa (1955)
Kuwait - a 'Fifth Pod' Operation, by Jack Wesson (1965)
a BOAC flight planner's nightmare
Kuwait - the Oil Drillers, by John Cogger (1970)
a BOAC Sales Manager at work - life in the fast lane
Kuwait - Out of the Fog, by Peter Richards (1991)
Return to Kuwait after the Gulf War
Yemen - Sana'a Memories, by David Hogg (1973)
a testimony of everyday life in the Yemen
Saudi Arabia - Abdul and the Bacon, by David Hogg (1973)
a treat goes missing
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia - Rats! An Unwelcome Customer, by John Anderson (1978)
An Unwelcome Passenger
recollections and tales of life with BOAC and British Airways in Africa
Ghana - the Watchman, by Anthony Farnfield (1966)
a letter in the files
Kano, Nigeria - Willie on the Rampage, by Pat Noujaim (1959)
The randiest dachshund in Northern Nigeria nearly causes a delay
Nigeria - Bush Telegraph, by David Hogg (1965)
bad news travels fast in West Africa
Nigeria - Things Other than the World Cup, by Don Ford (1966)
BOAC involved in events in Lagos before the Biafran War
Nigeria - Boom Times, by Peter Jones (1975-1979)
the oil boom in Nigeria in the seventies
Nigeria - an Attempted Coup, by Peter Jones (1976)
violent regime change in Nigeria
Nigeria - Living and Working in Lagos, by Peter Jones (1975-1979)
stories of expatriate life in Nigeria
Nigeria and Concorde, by Peter Jones (1976-1979)
How Nigerians took to Concorde
Nigeria - Never Knowingly Undersold, by Peter Jones (1979)
Travails with the Lagos Telephone Company
Nigeria - Student Travel, by Peter Jones (1981)
a student goes to the wrong destination
Nigeria - Lagos Airport Again! by Nick Robertson (1989-90)
Wild West (Africa)
Ethiopia - Petrol Rationing, by Doug Tester (1975)
Michael to the rescue
Uganda - The Road to Kampala, by Peter Liver (1972)
a moment in history - BOAC in Uganda in the days of Idi Amin
Uganda - Exodus of the Ugandan Asians, by Mike Wickings (1972)
Organising the departure of Asians from Uganda
Uganda - Kenneth's Mortars, by John Anderson (1972)
Diplomatic Incident in East Africa
Zambia - Jottings from the Copperbelt, by Peter Jones (1969-1972)
Malawi - The President's Plane, by Peter Woodrow (1977)
VIP Travel to the Commonwealth Conference...
Kenya - Nairobi 1956 etc., By Maurice Flanagan
early memories of BOAC in Nairobi
Kenya - The Frustrations of the Comet 4, by Don Ford (circa 1962)
recollections of ingenious improvisation to make best use of space in the BOAC Comet 4
Kenya - Customer Recovery, Kenya Style, By Simon Watts (1988)
Going the extra mile...
Kenya - Concorde and other big beasts, by Simon Watts (1986-90)
Concorde and other big beasts
Kenya - Nanyuki Wedding, by Steve Sturton-Davies (1992)
a wedding in the bush
Egypt - The Six Day War, By Ron Colnbrook (1967)
memories of a war zone
Libya, Sudan and Iraq - The Personal and Confidential File, by Roddy Wilson (1955-1960)
more camel stories...
Libya - Monkeys in a Hangar, by Ralph Glazer (1954)
Wildlife in Tripoli
Libya - The spirit of Christmas Past, by Gerry Catling (1958)
hijinks in the Tripoli transit lounge
Libya (and Ceylon) Unaccompanied Minors by Gerry Catling (1959)
The difficulties that younger passengers sometime cause...
Jamaica - Dr No by Mike McDonald (1964/1974)
a James Bond memory
St. Lucia - Hurricane Allen, by Peter Jones (1980)
surviving a major hurricane
St.Lucia - The Wrong Taxiway, by Peter Jones (1983)
consequences of miscommunication
St. Lucia - The Red Lady, by Peter Jones (1983)
voodoo and the Boeing 747 - an unsolved mystery
St. Lucia - The Collector, by Peter Jones (1983)
An Illegal 'Collector' of Rare Species is seen off
St. Lucia - There's a Hole in the Runway, by Peter Jones (1984)
suspension of operations in St Lucia
Trinidad - Management Skills, by Bill Smith (1965)
learning the ropes, the hard way
Bahamas - Cabin bags and Elephants, by Tony Russell (1966)
squashed baggage
Canada - Gander, Crossroads of the World, by Gerry Catling (1956)
Transatlantic travel as it used to be
Mexico - A Day in Mexico City, by Ralph Glazer (1975)
Concorde, a Road Accident and the Mexican Police
Panama - Don't Stop! by David Hogg (1975-1980)
what about the snakes?
Panama - Flying Positive, by David Hogg (1975-1980)
BAC-111 pilots in Central America
Chile - Chile-Chile-Bang-Bang, by Howell Green (1994)
Frustrations in the queue for take-off
Uruguay - Jet Flight Arrives in South America, by Alan Douglas (1959)
introducing the Comet 4 in South America
USA - I Was There That Day, by Jonathan Martin (1963)
Dallas 1963, the day of President Kennedy's assassination
USA - The Cricket Team, by Peter Jones (1964)
cricket in New York with BOAC?
USA - The New World, by Don Ford (1967-1969)
An expatriate airport manager comes to Chicago
Ascension and Falkland Islands - Encounters of the Third Kind, by Bruce Fry (1985-1987)
a BOAC station engineer goes on secondment to the RAF in the Falklands
UK - A Shetland Story, by Anthony McLauchlan (1972)
Bulgaria - Fog in London, by Mike Lewin (1976)
BEA schedules affected by fog in London
Cyprus - Suez and the Rocky path of True Love, by Gerry Catling (1956-57)
effect of Suez on BA schedules and social life..
Cyprus - the Hijack, by Bruce Fry (1970)
when a hijacked BOAC VC-10 diverted all flights to Nicosia
Cyprus - The Turkish Invasion, by Taff Lark (1974)
Evacuation of tourists when Cyprus invaded by Turkish forces
Germany - from BSAA to the Berlin Airlift, by C. I. (Charlie Item) Smith (1948-49)
Following the BSAA disasters, the Avro Tudor fleet is assigned to the Berlin Airlift as fuel tankers
Germany - Learning German, by Larry Gorton (1966)
recollections of a BEA manager having problems learning German
Italy - The Secret of Fiumicino, by Bill Smith (1967)
airport customer service staff get a morale boost and valuable lessons for motivation are learned
Romania - Heidi's Haggis, by Mike Lewin (1971)
a bit of BEA memorabilia - ingenuity in the kitchen saves Burns Night in Bucharest
Poland - The Stand-off, by Roy Burnham (1978)
an encounter with American presidential security guards
Russia (USSR) Trans Siberian Start-up, by Brian Burgess (1969-1972)
planning for an historic moment - BOAC's trans Siberian route to Japan
Russia(USSR) - The Omelette Factory, by Peter Richards (1970s)
Navigating over Siberia
Russia (USSR) - Red Faces in Red Square, By Bernard Garvie (1970)
Diplomatic Incident with Chandelier
Russia (USSR) The Security Guard, by Peter Richards (1976)
How to scare a Russian Security Officer
Russia (USSR) -The Stewardess, by Taff Lark (1980)
shades of 007
Russia (USSR) - the Golf Lesson, by Peter Richards (1976)
In a Moscow Hotel Room..
Russia (USSR) - Domodedovo Airport, 'the House of my Grandfather' by Mike McDonald (1989)
a memoir of early days at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport
Russia (USSR) - Moscow Anecdotes, by Jim Mackison (1970)
various memories of working and living in Moscow
Spain - Dictatorship and Honour, by Gerry Catling (1960)
a recollection of Franco's Spain - negotiating the 'personal honour' code at Madrid Airport
Spain - A Soft Touch, by Ralph Glazer (1971)
A Meeting with Franco
Switzerland - The Precision of the Swiss, by Gerry Catling (1968)
recollections of how we proved to the airport authority that the Super VC-10 was not a noisy aircraft
Further reading and watching for addicts....
Some miscellaneous photos that don't have a story to go with them

Bangladesh - Days in the life of a new Station Manager, by Jim Mackison (1976 - 1980)



New country, tough job, difficult conditions for the rotating temporary Station Officer and me. Trying to establish and maintain our worldwide standards in Dhaka was challenging. We had VC-10 turnrounds and a 707 freighter. The VC-10 departure processes were like an obstacle course. If we managed an on-time departure, it felt like a real achievement. In those days Dhaka was a single person’s posting.


The 707F arrived at 06:30 from Dubai and went on to Bangkok and Hong Kong. Airport comms were slow, with movement and load messages sometimes arriving after the transit had finished. A roar through the café window would declare the arrival. Our load change was usually 3 or 4 pallets plus lower holds. We’d hurtle down the stairs, and zoom out to the aircraft. In the heat and dust I’d scribble down the offload, and run a finger down the balance chart to check if our outgoing load would trim. The Biman Cargomatic was unreliable, and struggled to lift 4-tonnes. We didn’t want to offload or load anything unnecessarily. Activity had to be ‘right first time’. Occasionally we called up a forklift to help the elevator to lift, causing the pallet to jam against the sill guard. The completed loadsheet was always decorated with beads of sweat.


The Cheshire Homes Ball was a highlight of the social calendar. My date was Lois from the World Bank. It was the monsoon season. Buckets of rain lashed down. Halfway to the Intercon Hotel I heard a bang. The temperature gauge shot into the red. ‘Fanbelt.’ I turned off into an open-air market area. In the rain I found and paid someone to guard the car till midnight. Cinderella and I continued by scooter rickshaw, arriving at the ball late and damp. Hours later a scooter rickshaw approached the rear gate of Tejgaon Airport. As I entered the Bangladesh Biman transport equipment office, the snoozing staff jumped to attention at the sight of me in my DJ. Seated next to a Biman driver, I headed back to the market area. Using a pallet strap I was towed to our regular garage. The incident was a metaphor for the job. Misfortune can strike. Survival depends on ingenuity, relationships and being phlegmatic.


We sometimes shipped coffins. On one occasion, I had known the deceased lady, who had fallen from a 19th floor window. The flight was sub-chartered to a Tradewinds 707, whose loadmaster didn’t trust the embalming certificate. Ah, Traffic Manual, General Regs, Section K, Miscellaneous. I convinced him all was in order. A week later the same aircraft and loadmaster returned. He talked about the strange smell their aircraft had acquired and kept. ‘I think you’ll find that smell comes from the live turtles we shipped last week, not the coffin. We have more turtles today.’  Hong Kong turned them into soup and tortoiseshell ornaments.


We once arrived at 6am to find a wide red carpet and dais laid out on the only stand available for the 707F to park and to manoeuvre the equipment. The band was unpacking brass instruments. It turned out that the President of North Korea was arriving. Nobody had warned us. I climbed the outside steps to the Tower just in time to hear our 707F making contact 30 minutes out. ‘Airport closed, Speedbird 924,’ (pause, then calm reply) ‘Any particular reason, Dhaka?’ The Captain decided to hold, and land after the re-opening. ‘Get your retaliation in first’ was a trusted principle. I was usually on good terms with the Civil Aviation Airport Manager. This time I berated him about not telling us, declaring that the cost of wasted fuel would be offset from the next set of landing fees. Accepted. Crew mollified.


In 1977 a JAL DC-8 was hijacked, and landed at Dhaka. Our VC-10 had just left. JAL was normally offline. I phoned the British High Commission. No knowledge. If they didn’t know, maybe nobody else did. I sent a QX to LHRWWBA, other online carriers’ local and head offices, and JAL’s Tokyo Control Centre, telling them what had happened, and what I could see of the situation on the ground. There followed a deluge of requests for sitreps. For 2 days arms-length negotiations went on at the airport, which was closed. There was a 5am knock at my gate. Our BA driver. I was woken. ‘My mother is sick in Jessore, Sir.’ ‘OK, you can go. Leave the van at the hotel.’ I went back to bed. Next, the phone rang. ‘Are you alright?’ asked the Sales Manager, away in Chittagong. ‘Of course. Why?’ ‘There’s been a coup.’ Disaffected Army and Air Force units had risen up overnight, trying to unseat the martial law government. 11 senior Air Force officers and many other ranks had been shot dead at the airport. The radio station was taken over. Fortunately, the coup failed in a few hours, but the hijackers were still sitting on the tarmac with 100 hostages on board. They thought the shooting was a diversionary trick. Japan eventually released some Japanese Red Army terrorists, who were flown to Dhaka on another DC-8. With the hijack over, we persuaded London to reinstate the Delhi/Dhaka extension to clear our backlog of passengers. The tech crew flew empty. We asked the Intercon Hotel to lay on milk, juice, bread rolls, hard-boiled eggs and fruit, as we weren’t a catering station. With no time for an engineer to come from Calcutta, there was an amateur on the departure headphones.


The hijack/coup was one of many stand-out ‘events’ during my 4 years – some were good, some more difficult. Occasions of difficulty have over time turned into treasured memories of those wonderful years. Head Office took away the ‘single staff only’ label.


Sales Offfice, Dhaka

Manager's House




sales counter in bangladesh
jim mackison home
Text-only version of this page  |  Edit this page  |  Manage website  |  Website design: