Straight & Level 1 October

Dutch of the new for old Dakota
Old Dakotas don’t die. They go on flying… in virtual reality. This, at least, is the fate of one Douglas DC-3 which is being broken up and being turned into a simulator – almost 70 years after coming off the production line in 1944.
After post-war service with Air France, the aircraft spent time in museums in Belgium and the Netherlands since being decommissioned in the 1980s. The aircraft was due to have been a prop (so to speak) in a live musical version of the film Soldier of Orange, but was damaged beyond repair en route to the theatre, a converted hangar at the Valkenburg naval air base in the Netherlands.
It so happened that Dick Verburg, owner of a Dutch training company, Multi Pilot Simulations, had been looking for a Dakota cockpit for some time to turn into a static
training device.
He bought the wreck but is under no illusion about the scale of the task of converting the cockpit into a simulator, which will have to be squeezed around existing programmes.
“Construction will take time as it will be done between our regular work and as cost effectively as possible,” he says.
He expects it to take about 12 months, compared with five for one of its regular devices.
The machine will be used by the Dutch Dakota Association, although MPS also hopes to get some business from the handful of carriers that are still flying the old Douglas transport around the world.
Thanks to Bob Fischer.

DC-3 at Valkenburg NAS made ready for transport

Ships of the sky
The flying boats of the 1930s  and post-war period were the first long-haul airliners, spiriting passengers in style in a series of hops across the oceans.
Many of them were built on the south coast of England – home to Saunders-Roe and Supermarine – and Mike Phipp celebrates their legacy in Flying Boats of the Solent and Poole (Amberley Publishing, £14.99).
Phipp charts the evolution of amphibious airliners from the 1920s, through their 1930s heyday and war service to the ill-fated giants of the 1950s such as the Princess (below).
It’s great on detail and pictures, though the story-telling suffers from a relentless flurry of facts. An index would help, too.
Superb, though, for all fans of the glory days of those air ships.


It’s Essex, man!
“Flying to the show couldn’t be easier,” gushed the website of Helitech International, held last week at London’s Docklands ExCeL exhibition centre, with a picture of a helicopter against a high-rise waterfront backdrop, looking not unlike the capital’s glitzy business district.
Great, so just plonk your chopper onto a helipad on the roof of ExCeL, or possibly nearby London City airport or Canary Wharf? Not quite. Those flying helicopters to the helicopter show had to route to an aerodrome in nearby… er… Upminster, Essex, a 22km, 25min shuttle bus journey away.
We left the helo at home and took the Docklands Light Railway instead.


London calling
Still at Helitech, Oxford airport’s marketing man was amused that PremiAir is renaming its Blackbushe facility the West London Heliport, given that Blackbushe is in Surrey’s leafy stockbroker belt, 63km south-west of the West End.
Oxford’s sister business – Battersea heliport on the banks of the Thames – is much more convenient for the capital.
The irony wasn’t lost on our Oxford chap, however. Some years back his airport, 100km up the A40 from Marble Arch, was renamed London Oxford to lure private aviation users doing business in the Old Smoke.

Out of shape
Engrossing progress report in the latest Rolls-Royce customer magazine about the UK’s upcoming twin 65,000t Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
Sadly, the graphic along the bottom of each spread looks nothing like said flat-top.
Not only that, but the vessel seems to be populated with silhouetted F-18s, F-14s and S3 Vikings – not types the Senior Service flies when we checked.


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One Response to Straight & Level 1 October

  1. DJ 9 October, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Or, as London Oxford Airport currently puts it, “40 miles to the north-west of the Greater London area”.

    Which is still 60 miles to London proper!

    Nice facility though, even if I wish that scheduled traffic became a more regular fixture.

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