G-APIM's History (Viscount Stephen Piercey)


As with all V.806 Viscounts the initial fuselage construction took place at Hurn, with G-APIM being the 50th type V.800 started at the factory. The partly completed fuselage had arrived at Brooklands by 21st December 1957 when the main assembly commenced. It was moved to the finishing hanger on 5th May 1958 and GAPIM took to the air from Brooklands on 4th June 1958. G-APIM received its certificate of airworthiness on 20th June and was delivered to British European Airways Corporation at Heathrow on the 24th June 1958. Two days later IM made her first passenger flight, from London to Barcelona. The Captain on that inaugural flight, was one Ray Piercey!

All B.E.A. Viscounts were called "Discovery class" after famous discoveries G-APIM was named Robert Boyle after the Irish scientist born in 1627, who was the originator of "Boyles Law" one of the key gas laws of physics.
 


G-APIM is a V.806 Viscount featuring more powerful R.DA 7 MK 520 however these were later removed to give the underpowered A.W Arcosy freighters in the B.E.A. fleet more power, and so R.DA 6 MK 510 as fitted to the V.802 were fitter to IM and sister ships. In its original configuration along with all V.800 Viscounts in the B.E.A. fleet IM carried 42 tourist and 16 first class passengers. In service it was used on B.E.A.s European routes extending as far afield as Tel-Aviv Moscow and Tripoli from its Heathrow base G-APIM being used for route proving flights to Budapest and Prague in the early 60s. After more than ten years with B.E.A. on routes `India Mike' was put into open storage at Cambridge Airport from February to November 1969. returning to B.E.A. service for two years until G-APIM was transferred to an associate Cambrian Airways on 2nd November 1971 G-APIM flew to its new home at Cardiff- Rhoose Airport the next day.
 

G-APIM Viscount Stephen Piercey on the ground

Picture courtesy of Jürgen Lutz   http://www.flugzeugbilder-juergen.de/
 

On 18th January 1972 G-APIM emerged from the paint shop resplendent in the new colours of Cambrian Airways consisting of an orange upper fuselage and tail with a stylised welsh dragon. A few months later Cambrian Airways was absorbed into the newly formed `British Airways' and G-APIM left the paint shop on 12th November 1973 repainted in B.A. colours with small Cambrian titles.

Below can be seen G-APIM in BA colours. The picture was  taken by Michael Blank at Liverpool, in August 1974..

G-APIM Viscount Stephen Piercey on the ground
On 7th December 1977 G-APIM was flying as BZ 762 from Aberdeen to Kirkwall upon landing on runway 10 which was wet and swishy `India Mike' skidded off the concrete and ended up bogged down in the grass, the passengers left the aircraft via the starboard rear door slide. Thankfully there were no injuries to anyone on board and `India Mike' suffered only minor damage. In 1980 British Airways altered the title on their Aircraft to read just `British' and so India Mike found itself having its titles changed on 14th November 1980.

By 1982 our Viscount was the last of its type to be retired by B.A. and flown to Cardiff for storage pending sale. In 1984 the Southend based Airline British Air Ferries (B.A.F.) purchased G-APIM plus several other Ex B.A. V.800 Viscounts and was ferried with her undercarriage down to Southend on 3rd February 1984. `India Mike' underwent a major overhaul and was ready for service with B.A.F. by July.

Stephen Piercey Borrowed from Superprops by OspreyOn 25th August 1984 G-APIM was christened `Viscount Stephen Piercey' after the young and talented chief photographer of `Flight International' (pictured left).

Stephen had been tragically killed in a mid air collision at the Hanover Air Show on 20th May 1984 whilst on an assignment.

Stephen had founded and edited a high quality, quarterly magazine called `Propliner' which was devoted to Piston and Turboprop transport aircraft around the world, such was his esteem in the Aviation world that B.A.F. offered to name one of their Viscounts after Stephen.

The honours of naming `India Mike' fell to Stephens parent's Ray and Patsy (who lived just a few miles from Brooklands). It had been Ray Piercey who had flown IM on its inaugural flight from London to Barcelona, back in 1958. The naming ceremony is pictured below

In commercial service with B.A.F all the V.800 Viscount fleet was configured for either 76 passengers in an economy layout or 7 tons of freight, on routes that spanned across Europe.

In one of life's little 'twists' IM returned to Heathrow on the 18th and 19th of January 1984 and operated the British Airways Jersey Service. This was because the BAC1-11 that had replaced the Viscounts at BA, were unable to operate in the heavy snow! 

 

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