The Rescue and Recovery of G-APIM


On 29th June 1989 after some negotiation, G-APIM was offered to Brooklands Museum and so in July Brooklands Curator of Aviation, Julian Temple and Roger Hargreaves of `Proteus Aero Services' inspected G-APIM and agreed with B.A.F. on a long term loan of the Aircraft to Brooklands Museum for Preservation and static display. This webmaster Andy Lambert (then the Managing Director of Brooklands based National Rescue) was approached and asked to coordinate the aircraft recovery. Below can be seen Julian Temple and Roger Hargreaves with Andy’s 'Milly Tant' 1954 Recovery Vehicle.

G-APIM at Southend

Between August 1989 and February 1990, Proteus' Mick Bates under took temporary repairs to the aircraft and dismantled it ready for transportation. To assist him as can be seen above, Andy drove his Militant Crane "Miss Milly Tant" to Southend to help with dismantling. You can read more about Milly on her own website www.millytant.com. Milly spent three months at Southend as the guest of British World Airlines, dismantling VSP. On the 11-02-90 Milly was joined by the Brooklands Belle, the Brooklands Conveyor and some members of the Brooklands Recovery Engineering and Salvage Team to recover the fuselage back to Brooklands.

Viscount G-APIM being recovered

After loading the main fuselage in appalling weather conditions the convoy set of for the Museum. The route would take them around the M25 making 'VSP' the only Viscount to ever travel under the River Thames (via the Dartford Tunnel), while on its way back to its birthplace at Brooklands. On its way to and around the M25 Essex and Kent Police assisted the team, however the convoy was stopped by Surrey Police just one junction before the Brooklands Exit. The reason given was because they thought "it was getting too dark to travel" even though the escorting vehicles were lit up like Christmas Trees! VSP therefore had to spend the night in a lay-by on the Leatherhead Spur road, before it could continue to Brooklands next morning.

G-APIM Recovery
VSP Recovery

National Rescue was one of Surrey polices official recovery operators and so after a few phone call the following day two very nice Traffic Officers meet the team by the lay-by and escorted VSP the last few miles. Once at Brooklands the official unloading took place, in the presence of Stephen's family, plus Sir George Edwards, Morag Barton, The Mayor and Sir Peter Masefield shown in the photo below. Over the next few weeks the rest of VSP was retrieved from Southend and Andy drove Milly back home to Brooklands.

G-APIM Recovery
VSP Recovery

Mick Bates with occasional help from Milly and other volunteers started to rebuild the aircraft. First of all inside the famous 'Wellington Hangar' and later outside on the Hangar Apron where the wings and engines could be fitted.

During May of 1990 a group called 'The Friends of Viscount Stephen Piercey' were formed in an attempt to meet the escalating cost of restoration. The groups logo was designed by Guy Holman.

With the aid of BAF and under the guidance of Tom Singfield, the Friends started flying 'fund raising Viscounts trips' (usually in Viscount G-AOYN with Capt Colin Towle at the helm), to all kinds of interesting places including:- Le Bourget Airport France, Basel Mulhouse as well as Jersey and Duxford, plus several local tours including beating up Heathrow's main runway at a few hundred feet. Trips were also laid on to fly modern jets simulators at Crawley as well as trips around BAF's hangers at Southend.


VSP Recovery