Straight & Level 19 March

Vickers in a twist

Howard Mason, heritage manager with BAE Systems, responds to Chris Barnes’s assertion that all Vickers types began with V. Do they include the Vellesley, Vellington, Vindsor and Varwick, he asks?

That said, Vs certainly figured prominently in Vickers’ catalogue. “I think you will find that the Valentias were mainly converted from the earlier Victoria, which married the wings from the Vimy’s successor, the Vickers Virginia, to a fuselage similar to the Vickers Vernon, which was the military cargo version of the Vimy, based on the original Vimy Commercial. Continuous innovation in those days, too!” notes Howard.

Meanwhile, Hugo Winkler takes us to task for our 25 Years Ago entry in 5 March which mentioned an order placed by an airline called Celt Air. “No wonder they never got off the ground if they were waiting for McDonnell Douglas DC-9-61s,” he says.

Apologies for the typo.

To the Germans, it was always the Vellington

Wellington bombers.jpgYes, we Vulcan

It has had more retirements and subsequent comebacks than Sinatra, but the last flying Vulcan may not be a museum relic just yet. Despite the body responsible for the restoration of the Cold War bomber previously seeming to give up resurrecting XH558 for one more flying season, a fresh effort is being made to keep it airworthy.

The Vulcan to the Sky Trust is looking to “reverse engineer” components needed to extend the fatigue life of the leading edge of the wings using 3D scanning and computer-aided engineering techniques. The modification was developed by Avro in the 1960s while the Vulcans were still in RAF service, but none of the original jigs survive.

Cranfield Aerospace has begun scoping the project – which must be carried out precisely according to documented Avro procedures – and if it is decided that the modification is possible, the next phase will be to design panels and tools. You can see a graphic showing what has to be done at

If you want to contribute to the cost, one way might be to buy a copy of a book celebrating the 60th anniversary of the UK’s first delta-wing jet bomber. Spanning the story from test flight through its part in the Falklands war, to the restoration of the last flying example, it is available for £20 ($30) from


Why hyphens matter. AUVSI press release: “Unmanned aircraft industry poised to create 70,000 new jobs in US in three years.” Impressive indeed for the unmanned-aircraft industry. But it would certainly be a new way of working for the unmanned aircraft-industry.

No 1 Fan Am

For many, the mention of Pan Am evokes a powder blue era of martinis, mini-skirts and Maybelline when long-haul flying was fun, glamorous and reassuringly expensive.

Anthony Toth, from California, has taken his obsession with the iconic airline to extremes, reconstructing an entire Pan Am Boeing 747 first-class cabin (mostly from a Japan Airlines jumbo parked in the Mojave desert) so he and his friends can recreate the experience of luxury flying in the carrier’s early 1970s heyday.

He has even filled the cabin with authentic memorabilia and persuaded former Pan Am flight attendants to dust down their old uniforms and serve drinks and meals.

Pan Am.jpg


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