Miscellanies Viscount G-APIM items

About British Air Ferries: The company was founded in 1946 as Silver City Airways and would become one of the longest surviving independent airlines in the UK, operating initially three AVRO Lancastrians (the civil version of the Lancaster Mk.3 heavy bomber) from its base at Langley Airfield. It moved to Blackbushe in 1947 and in 1948 was involved in the Berlin Airlift. In 1962 it became British United Air Ferries, pioneering car-ferry services across the Channel. It operated predominately out of Southend Airport where its headquarters building was. In 1967 it changed its name to the shortened version British Air Ferries (BAF) and experienced tremendous popularity with the UK flying public.

In 1993 it became British World Airlines, and adopted the logo shown below (which caused some wits to unkindly christen it 'British Warthog Airlines'). Like many other aviation companies it was unable to survive the aftermath of the 11th of September and went into receivership at the end of 2001. It must be recorded that with out the generosity and support of BAF the preservation of Viscount Stephen Piercey would not have been possible.

G-APIM Recovery
VSP Recovery

About National Rescue: The company was founded as Cambridge Coachworks in 1971 in Kingston Surrey and became National Rescue when Andy Lambert joined them in 1974. They moved their Headquarters to Brooklands in 1984 ready for the opening of the new M25 motorway and most recently moved it to Chessington in 2004. In the mid eighties Brooklands Museum asked if they could collect a few 'small things' for them and of course over the years the requested items got bigger, with the first aircraft collection (a twin engined Varsity from Cambridgeshire) coming in 1988.

G-APIM remains the largest road movement they undertook and with them coming out of 'heavy recovery' in the new millennium this achievement will not be beaten. fortunately some of their old vehicles remain at Brooklands and are used to move aircraft, aircraft components, bombs and plant around the museum site, see some item in progress below.

National Rescue at work
Brooklands National Rescue Vehicles

About Brooklands Museum: In 1984 British Aerospace’s sold 40 acres of the site to Gallaher Ltd and 30 acres was leased by Elmbridge Council for the formation of a Museum. In 1987 the Brooklands Museum Trust was launched, with Sir Peter Masefield as Chairman and Morag Barton was appointed Museum Director. A period of refurbishment took place along with acquisition of many major and minor exhibits.

In April 1989 HRH Prince Michael of Kent became Royal Patron and the Museum was formally opened to the public in 1991. In 2010 the freehold of the Museum site was gifted to the Museum by Japan Tobacco International who had purchased Gallaher Ltd, and then in 2011 the London Bus Museum opened on the site. In 2006 the biggest project the Museum had seen started, which culminated in a number of new buildings and the refurbishment and relocation of the famous Wellington Hangar.

The Museum is open all year round (apart from a few days at Christmas) and more details can be found at www.brooklandsmuseum.com

National Rescue at work

About the Friends of Viscount Stephen Piercey: The group was started by Tom Singfield, Roger Hargreaves and Andy Lambert in 1990 to promote a promote a flight to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the World's first commercial air passenger service flight by a Turbine Powered Airliner. This was the first of many trips organised by the group to secure funds especially for Viscount Stephen Piercey.

Fund raising for the aircraft is still undertaken by the group although sadly the members are dwindling with age. The first group photo below taken by Cliff Knox, shows many of the friends at the opening of Viscount Stephen Piercey Including many of Stephen's family and right at the front in the Grey Jacket Jock Bryce OBE the legendary (but extremely modest) Test Pilot who first flew the Viscount type.

Friends of Viscount Stephen Piercey
Friends of Viscount Stephen Piercey

The second picture above taken by Tom Singfield in 2008, shows many of the Friends gathering in Ray and Patsy Piercey's garden (Ray kneeling in the middle with Patsy behind him), to celebrate 50 years since Stephen's father Ray made G-APIM's first commercial flight from London (Heathrow) to Barcelona, that date being the 26th of July 1958. Next to Ray in the wheelchair can be seen Mick Bates (another true legend) who had dismantled the aircraft at Southend and then resembled it at Brooklands.

G-AOYN: No website about Viscount Stephen Piercey would be complete with out mention of the sister aircraft G-AOYN (pictured below courtesy of Ken Fielding). A large number of the fund raising flights undertaken by the friends were in YN and over the years we all become attached to this old lady. YN first flew at Weybridge on the 6th March 1958 some three months before IM and was named Sir Isaac Newton. For the next twenty years the aircraft would work for BEA, Cambrian Airways and finally BA. In early 1981 the aircraft was purchased by BAF and was renamed Diana, a name it would keep until 1985. From 1985 until 1993 it would be Viscount Rotterdam then City of Dublin and finally Viscount Jersey.


Then on the 18th April 1993, it flew the friends of Viscount Stephen Piercey to Duxford, where at a special ceremony it was renamed The Spirit of Brooklands, by Stephen's dad - Ray Piercey while parked beside the worlds oldest surviving Viscount G-ALWF.

In late 1994 the aircraft was put on contract to Parcel Force International and repainted in their colours. At the same time if finally lost its famous registration, when it was re registered as G-OPAS. Its final flight was just a few years later when it returned to Southend on the 21st June 1996. The following year it was sadly broken up and scarped, but fortunately the nose section was saved by the Duxford Aviation Society. It is now on Display at the Bournemouth Aviation Museum.