Straight & Level 26 March

Willie sells BMI’s place in country

The 18th century Donington Hall, near Derby, HQ of BMI for more than 30 years, symbolised the ambitions of Sir Michael Bishop to take on British Airways and turn his upstart airline into part of the UK aviation establishment.

Now the grade II-listed country seat has become the latest casualty of Willie Walsh’s consolidation drive with International Airlines Group selling Donington Hall to Norton Motorcycles, which will use it as its head office.

While Sir Michael’s stake in BMI allowed him to ride off into the sunset a very wealthy man, the carrier’s performance in recent years may have led to a new sobriquet for the stately home – Downturn Abbey.

Bishop’s palace: Donington Hall back in the day

Donington Hall.jpgMystere right

Nice bit of trivia we came across relating to the 50th anniversary of the Falcon business jet family.

When Dassault Aviation was looking for a less French-sounding name for its Mystere 20 to launch the brand in North America, it engaged a Manhattan brand consultant. The monicker he came up

with? Citation.

Dassault bosses liked it, but asked him to have another go. His second suggestion was Falcon and the French knew they were on to a winner.

Rumour has it that some years later, Cessna engaged the same brand consultant.


An overkeen staff member is being blamed for a social media own goal by Luton airport. The London airport posted a picture on its Facebook page of the Southwest 737 that sheered off the runway at Chicago Midway in 2005, killing a child. The message that accompanied it: “Because we are such a super airport… this is what we prevent you from when it snows.”

Luton removed the post and said: “We apologise unreservedly. The post was wholly unacceptable and it will never happen again.” It came from “an over-enthusiastic member of our support team”.

Freight idea

Headline from a rival aviation website: “Pemco launches

757-200 Combi conversation programme”. It was all talk apparently.

Dossier of doom

Ian Goold came across this aviation mag (below). Good title for an air safety bulletin, he suggests.

S&L image.jpg

Uplifting cause

Aviation charity fly2help asks us to put out a call for corporate sponsors to help fund its expansion in the UK.

The organisation, based at Costwold airport in Cirencester, is best known for its Air Smiles Days, where families and individuals living with disability, chronic and life-limiting illness, abuse and neglect and financial deprivation are taken on an “uplifting VIP flight” from a local airfield.

The charity depends on pilots and aircraft owners to donate their time and equipment. We are happy to do our bit to help a great cause:


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