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

Zambia - Jottings from the Copperbelt, by Peter Jones (1969-1972)

The Copperbelt is a fairly isolated upland region of Central Africa, which is rich in minerals and covers an area of Northern Zambia as well as the adjacent province of Katanga in the Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire.

On the Zambian side, there are a number of towns built around the copper mines, notably Kitwe, Mufulira and Chingola. To the east of the Copperbelt lies  Ndola, which was, and is, the principal communications centre for the region, and the HQ of most of the commercial companies serving the area.  At the time of writing, its location was on the only metalled road to the south and east of the country.

The major European airlines, including BOAC, maintained a sales and ticketing office in Ndola, both to service the travel agency branches in the Copperbelt towns and to compete for the travel needs of the mainly expatriate personnel working with the mines and in supporting organisations, such as banks, insurance companies, retail outlets and light industries.

 Living on the Copperbelt was mostly quite pleasant; at an altitude of over 4000 feet the climate was generally benign for most of the year.  Most of the basic requirements of a decent lifestyle were available and there were excellent facilities for sport and recreation.  No TV of course, but plenty of social life, partying and entertaining.  Making one’s own entertainment stretches the imagination, and the small airline and travel community worked hard to add variety to our lives. 

A lady at one of the travel agencies had some experience of ballet dancing, and conceived the idea of persuading half a dozen (male) airline managers to don a tutu and teaching them to perform a corps de ballet scene from Swan Lake, as the cabaret for a Christmas party.  We trained over some weeks, during which she stressed that we were to present ourselves absolutely seriously, and not even to smile.  The end result, although not particularly professional, was at least reasonably coherent, and the sight of so many hairy legs, in imperfect symmetry, delighted the ladies present and brought the house down!  The performance was never repeated however…

Ndola Airport was, at the time of my posting there, unsuitable for longhaul aircraft like our VC10.  The runway was damaged at both ends;  the sanctions against Rhodesia had forced mining companies to use Hercules aircraft to fly copper ingots out of Ndola, although the runway had not been designed for such heavy use.  So, passengers bound for the Copperbelt from overseas now had to fly into Lusaka, nearly 200 miles to the south, to connect with a smaller Zambia Airways aircraft (BAC 111 or Avro 748) back north to Ndola.

One of my functions was to meet this twice weekly connecting flight and try to resolve any issues arising.  At the beginning of school holidays there would be sizeable groups of unaccompanied minors, and generally all the parents involved would be at the airport to meet their children.  On one occasion we were left with one young lad who had nobody there to meet him.  It transpired later that his parents, who lived in the far west of the country, had been held up by flooding en route to Ndola and had to turn back. We had an extra guest that night, and his somewhat anxious parents were able to collect him the following day.

I came to know one of the pilots from the Zambia Flying Doctor Service, who invited me to accompany them on one of their routine clinics.  We flew west from Ndola, over and far beyond the copper towns, in a twin engined six-seat Beechcraft.  Below us were miles and miles of scrubby bush and some more heavily wooded areas.  In one of these was a cleared rectangle, the size and shape of a small runway; we flew over this at low level for the pilot to assure himself that there were no animals on the 'runway', then landed, walked a few yards to a village centre, and the doctors set up and commenced their clinic.

Apparently, people will walk for up to 30 miles through the bush to attend these clinics to be treated for various diseases, injuries and other problems; the doctors told me that one of the saddest recurrent issues they faced was treating burns to very young children who had walked into unattended cooking fires.  We held two further clinics in different places that day, each a short flight away.  I consider myself privileged to have seen, and been out with these dedicated doctors at work in the African bush.

Sport figured importantly in our leisure activities and the Ndola Golf Club was one of the main centres of activity.  The course was excellent, carefully maintained, well managed and enjoyed not only by ourselves but also by visiting professionals, who, in the days prior to the formation of the European Tour, used to play in the winter months in several African countries on what was known as the ‘Safari Tour’.  This included a visit to Ndola to play in a competition called the ‘Cock of the North’, a reference I believe to its location in northern Zambia.  One year it was won unexpectedly by a bluff young Yorkshireman, who, at the presentation, looked at the trophy, held it aloft and said: “Cock of the North, eh? Grand!  Mind you, I’ve been called worse!”

One of the features of the Ndola Golf Course was the presence of a considerable number of termites’ nests, with an exterior of hardened mud, some up to 20 feet high.  One competition we played had a ‘shotgun start’, in which the competitors position themselves, several on each tee, and, on a given signal, each group starts to play.  Neville, a British army officer attached to the Zambia Defence Force, was deputed to start proceedings with a 'small' bang, but was somewhat over-enthusiastic in the amount of explosive he placed in an anthill, and succeeded in blowing it to smithereens!  Another 'feature' of the course was more serious wildlife; one had to look out for columns of soldier ants that marched unseen through the wispy rough and would attack any living thing in their path; there was the additional hazard of tree-climbing green mambas inhabiting the overhanging branches of the trees.  One needed a sharp-eyed caddy!

My friend Brian, who at the time was the Station Superintendent for BEA in Moscow, and has written elsewhere on this website about his experiences there, came to visit during the Russian winter with his wife and young family.  The day after their arrival, we awoke to hear the excited squeals of their two small daughters as they discovered the sunshine  and flowers in the garden - such a change from being cooped up in a Moscow hotel in the dead of winter; as we said at the time, like two litle birds being let out of a cage!  We all flew down to Victoria Falls and managed to persuade the Air Malawi flight crew to fly a 'figure of eight' above the falls so that Brian could record it on film.  An amazing and impressive sight and certainly one of the natural wonders of the world!

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