(All pictures by Nick Morrish/British Airways)
It’s Saturday 30 October, about 1715 local time on the ramp at London Heathrow, and Capt Chris Smith is taking a picture of the aeroplane he’s just about to fly to Edinburgh and back.
He’s in charge of the very last British Airways Boeing 757 schedule in revenue service. When the aircraft, G-CPET, noses up to the stand back at Heathrow again in about four hours’ time it will never fly passengers again.
Most of the passengers today don’t know until they get on board that the flight’s a special one. Then the crew tells them. A few get excited. Most say: “That’s nice”. They haven’t noticed that the aircraft had been painted in the livery that 757s used to wear in 1983 when the first of them arrived on the line at BA.
At the end of the flight all passengers are presented with a retro-design certificate, like this one (below) that Capt Smith is holding. Remember paper airline tickets?
Smith’s copilot is SFO Rich Ablewhite (below centre), but Captain John Monks (right), Flight Training Manager 757/767 fleet, is flying supernumerary, occupying the jump seat.
The cabin crew on the trip are CSD Sean Orsini with Sy Nyland, Nicki Hampson, Michelle Kearns, and Maria Conde Gutierrez. Unfortunately BA doesn’t supply them with a mini bottle of Taittinger for each passenger to celebrate, which would have been another nice retro touch.
During the cruise, Capt Monks carries out another routine which, these days, also has a retro feel about it: he visited the cabin to talk to the passengers (Below)
Here’s proof that I am on the flight with Eve Learmount (Below). I am naturally enthusiastic about the celebratory full-power take-offs and steep climbs that the crew provided for us out of LHR and EDI.
Of course the aeroplane is pretty light on both legs, so a full-power take-off delivers a very short run and an exhilaratingly steep climb angle.
Here’s CPET taking a sip of fuel on the pan at EDI before her last and final leg to LHR. She pushes back at 1932 (3min early) and noses up to the ramp two minutes ahead of the 2100 ETA. On the way up she’s been just ahead of time as well, so she finishes her spell at BA in dutiful fashion.
The Negus and Negus livery was not my favourite BA paint scheme, but I do miss the old Speedbird motifs that you can see on CPET’s eyebrows here.
Well done PET. Goodbye, Godspeed and have a good time at FedEx Express.