Nostalgia at BHX

CL44

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Jan 20, 2009
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I have just been going through the LBA forum and spotted the Nostalgia thread and thought it might be an idea to start one regarding BHX.

Do people still remember Highland Express with their 747 / Wardair with their 747 / Air India with their 707 or even BOAC with their VC-10?

If you do please post your memories on here and share with those of us who either were not lucky enough to be around (or whose memories are fading :smile: )

I remember coming to BHX when QANTAS brought their 747 in to celebrate opening a new booking office in the City Centre. My father managed to get out onto the apron in a Company van and brought me around the beast when it was parked up. I could not believe the size of the aircraft (bearing in mind I was not that old at the time). Nowadays obviously aircraft of this size are nothing out of the ordinary here, but that memory still sticks in my mind.

Let the memories start flowing.........
 

Aviador

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Great idea for a thread CL44 and I definitely remember Wardair although not at BHX.

I remember watching a BBC breakfast programme which was held live at the airport throughout the morning. I was a great plug for the airport at the time. Do you remember it at all?

I also remember seeing a couple of resident Maersk Air aircraft that had divert from BHX into my home airport LBA back in the 90's.

Those were the days, pre CAT 3 autoland when the winter months brought misery to many passengers when it was foggy. They certainly brought some interesting visitors into BHX with inbound diversions. As a kid I remember listening to the old Manchester Air Traffic Control when the weather was bad. I remember waiting for aircraft to call up to say they were diverting due weather at Manchester. It always seemed like it was a toss of a coin whether they would divert into LBA or BHX. More often than not Birmingham airport seemed to win the toss.
 

CL44

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Many (many) moons ago a colleague of mine was invited to see the diverted aircraft that had arrived here at BHX on one of the dreaded snow days when LHR (and many other assorted Airports) was blocked by bad weather. That day there were a number of BOAC VC-10's and 707's on the deck.

The main runway was being swept by the snow ploughs ready for operations to re-commence. My colleague (he would have been about 8 at the time) was standing with two of his friends (and his friends dad) on the side of the runway watching the ploughs get ready to start their manouveres when a photo was taken (without any of them knowing).

Fast forward to 2009, and I have just taken delivery of a supply of photos showing various diversions into BHX including a Cargolux CL44 (hence the username a rally nice Aircraft which seemed purpose built for it's job), various PanAm flights and some BOAC diversions. The supplier of the photos sent a couple of extras along as well (long story short there was a delay on the original order so he sent some extras buckshee), and lo and behold while we are looking through the photos in the office there is a cry of "THATS ME" and sure enough one of the photos was the one described above.

He now has a copy of that photo on display at home (I cannot talk not when I think about the photos / pictures I have on display both here at the office and at home), which is a talking point whenever he has visitors.

One of the other photos that I received was a shot of the new terminal (so post 1984) with 2 x British Airways 747's and 2 x Virgin 747's parked up on opposite sides of the terminal. This again was a diversion day (LHR & LGW must have both been out) and someone managed to get to do an overfly of the Airport just to get this shot.
 

Aviador

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The 80's seemed a really good decade for variety of both aircraft and airline types. The 707s were a fantastic aircraft. I remember seeing them regularly operating to the former Yugoslavia on behalf of Yugotours. The noise was great and the smoke that followed their steep climb on departure.

Do you still have copies of those photos available? (god I so need a scanner) It would be great if you were able to show us here.
 

CL44

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I do have the photos but would not be able to show them on here due to potential copyright issues. The guy who supplied the photos also took them when he worked at BHX during the 60s to the 80s. Without his permission to share the photos I would not like to presume and attach them on this board. Sorry about that but having seen various photos over the years scammed and used without permission this is something that I do feel strongly about.

Now back on subject, one of the best things about the Cheltenham Horse Races was the Aer Lingus flights which magically appeared each day. This was in the days when EI used 747's and it was not unusual to see two or three of their daily flights have an equipment change from 737 to 747 to accmodate the extra travellers.

Then we had the Euro Football championships in 1996. Most of the matched held locally at Villa Park attracted lots of wide body flights (Corsair 747's, Martinair MD11's the ocassional L1011 and DC10 from the far reaches of Europe (and sometimes further afield). One thing that sticks in my memory is that we once had 3 x Corsair 747's on the deck at the same time. Unfortunatley they all arrived in quick succession which meant that gate space was at a premium. The norrmal operations were still going on around the football traffic as well which meant at one stage we had three of the regular flights waiting behind one of the Corsair jumbos for a stand to become free. One of the flights ended up being delayed in off-loading passengers for over an hour after they had landed.

This championship saw the short runway (06/24) being used as overspill parking as there was no space anywhere else to be used. I still think that at present the most wide bodies on the deck at one time was a toss of the coin between this Championship and the G8 in 1998 (5 at any one time).
If anyone knows better please let me know becase it would be intersting to hear what the flights were.

One thing that did happen at the Euro football was that a Martinair MD11 went technical on the ramp just after pushback from the stand. BHX did not have a regular MD11 service and so had no tow bar suitable for use. A tow bar for a 767 was used to push the fligh back after off-loading and you can tell what happened can't you. The bar broke and severed the brakes / hydraulics to the front gear. This aircraft was not going anywhere and so stayed in position until Martinair engineers arrived (just after a second MD11 turned up with the next group of passengers) to fix the blessed thing. So for a couple of hours we had half the Martinair MD11 (PAX) fleet on the ground at the same time.

Another thing that comes to mind was the freight charters in the late 90's which meant that BHX saw all different sorts of flights (and carriers) which we would not normally have seen. This included Polar / Kalitta / Gemini and a whole host of DC10's / 74F's / DC8's and the odd L1011 freighter. We even had an open day for one of the Airport anniversaries whereby the public were allowed onto the field (barricaded in of course) with various aircraft on static display. Once the day was over and everyone was on their way home what should appear but a Gemini DC10 on the freight run. This bird just parked up on the apron next to the historical aircraft that had not been moved as yet and popped his door ready to unload.

All in all BHX has seen some very exciting days caused by either bad weather or good organisation (which ever you prefer). Hopefully these days will continue and we can encourage a new generation of spotters and enthusiasts to enjoy themselves. I still hanker for the days when you could see the older types of aircraft (Air Malta 707's anyone?) instead of all the A320's and 737's that seem to be all over the place now.
 

CL44

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Jan 20, 2009
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Thinking about the G8 conference in 1998, I arrived at work one day thinking not a lot would be happening. I was checking on a printer that had thrown a "wobbler" when I heard an almighty noise outside (the windows were open) and I looked up to see a huge grey shape coming in over the A45 to land. It was a USAF C5 (first time I had ever seen one). This was the first in a succession that came in with the ground kit (cars etc) for use by Pres. Clinton during the conference. I managed to get down to one of the office overlooking the ramp to see this beast offload an absolute mountain of kit. When it departed the power of this aircraft was such that it needed less than half of the runway to get airborne.

That weekend there was a proving flight by one of the Japanese 747's (it just flew over BHX) just to make sure that their crews were happy with the Airport (from what was reported at the time).

In the weeks prior to the meeting there were flights arriving about every other day. Security was tightened so much on the Airport that even the drain covers were sealed with cement just to make sure that no one tampered with them prior to President Bill coming in. No one (of course) knew when he would be arriving but the rumour mill was going ten to the dozen with different plans and timings. The day before the conference started we expected an absolute load of flights coming in and we were not disapointed.

The Japanese landed first with 2 x 747's, followed by the Canadians with an A310 (I think they call it the Polaris). We had various other small stuff coming in for the Europeans but then in came Boris with an IL96 accompanied by 2 x IL62's (their supply flight had been an IL76). Then later on in came the big fellow that everyone wanted to see. AF1 landed about half an hour afer we had finished for the day (so I never got to see the blinking thing) and then flew out that night down to Mildenhall ready for the return journey on the Sunday.

The next day was a Friday and there parked up were the widebodies from the previous day along with an Air Transat L1011 (I believe for the US Press Corps). Later on that afternoon Hilary Clinton arrived on a VC-137 (which was so shiny you could have used it for a mirror).

That was it then for arrivals. The meeting was going on over the weekend with departures on the Sunday, so I made sure that I had some invoicing to do and volunteered to get it out of the way on the Sunday.

I managed to get into the office in time to see all bar one of the flights depart (one of the Japanese 747's escaped while I was en-route) but managed to see all of the other flights off. We also had some C5's and a C141 come in to collect some of the kit previously brought in. The C141 managed to do a wing wave after take off (boy did that aircraft smoke on take off) which was rather impressive.

The next week there were several other flights that came in to collect various bits of kit that did not depart on that day. Even now you can still see signs of the cement seals (not many but if you know where to look you can see them) as a reminder of this special period of time here at BHX.
 

CL44

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Jan 20, 2009
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Many years ago (probably the early 90's) I turned up for work as normal and was just collecting the Import paperwork when I saw that there were a large number of people outside one of the warehouses. They were all just standing around and appeared to be waiting for something. I spotted my father (who worked for the Airline concerned) and went over to ask what was happening (thinking it was a fire drill or something similar). He told me that no it was not anything like that. They were all waiting for a particular flight to come in. It turns out that Dire Straits were on tour and their stage set (and other assorted bits and pieces) were coming in on a Cargolux 74F (possibly 2 of them, I cannot fully remember). Well at that time seeing a 74F at BHX was very rare. Lufthansa had put one in during the late 80's for a shipment of Land Rovers but I was not aware of any others that had been in.

Anyway the flight turned up and the stage kit was off-loaded by the Airline staff. Once it had been cleared through Customs the kit came out for loading onto the vehicles to take it to the venue and I have never seen roadies move so blooming quick. They were like locusts all over this kit. The Airlines could do no better than to hire these guys when they have a break because they really did know how to move cargo around.

I never found out if anyone had any photos of either aircraft being un-loaded (the internet was only just up and running then and certainly not available in our office) so was wondering if anyone here on the forum had seen any photos from either of these charters and would be willing to share them?
 

TheLocalYokel

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Fascinating story, CL44.

I'm afraid I can't help but we may strike lucky. Fingers crossed!
 

Seasider

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My first visit was in 1966 when it was mainly BEA Viscounts but I remember a Monarch Britannia and there used to be a grassed viewing area to the west of the apron.
 

TheLocalYokel

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Opening of new BHX terminal April 1984

I found this link on another aviation website.

It's a Local Tv News programme for the West Midlands of 4 April 1984 and shows the first day of the new terminal at BHX. It's good quality video.

The Youtube link is in two parts (below) both of ten minutes duration.

I found it fascinating and a trip down Memory Lane though I didn't know BHX then. Nevertheless all UK regional airports were a bit like this in 1984 though few as big or as grand as BHX's new terminal. The fledgling Maglev link is also featured.

I smiled when the narrator told his viewers somewhat incredulously that Birmingham Airport might be handling as many as three million passengers a year in six years time (in 1990).

I hope some of you enjoy this as much as I did.

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkXEKHnn8TI[/video]

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEfGiI3uOKo[/video]
 

Elmdon80slad

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Apr 13, 2012
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CL44 said:
Thinking about the G8 conference in 1998, I arrived at work one day thinking not a lot would be happening. I was checking on a printer that had thrown a "wobbler" when I heard an almighty noise outside (the windows were open) and I looked up to see a huge grey shape coming in over the A45 to land. It was a USAF C5 (first time I had ever seen one). This was the first in a succession that came in with the ground kit (cars etc) for use by Pres. Clinton during the conference. I managed to get down to one of the office overlooking the ramp to see this beast offload an absolute mountain of kit. When it departed the power of this aircraft was such that it needed less than half of the runway to get airborne.

That weekend there was a proving flight by one of the Japanese 747's (it just flew over BHX) just to make sure that their crews were happy with the Airport (from what was reported at the time).

In the weeks prior to the meeting there were flights arriving about every other day. Security was tightened so much on the Airport that even the drain covers were sealed with cement just to make sure that no one tampered with them prior to President Bill coming in. No one (of course) knew when he would be arriving but the rumour mill was going ten to the dozen with different plans and timings. The day before the conference started we expected an absolute load of flights coming in and we were not disapointed.

The Japanese landed first with 2 x 747's, followed by the Canadians with an A310 (I think they call it the Polaris). We had various other small stuff coming in for the Europeans but then in came Boris with an IL96 accompanied by 2 x IL62's (their supply flight had been an IL76). Then later on in came the big fellow that everyone wanted to see. AF1 landed about half an hour afer we had finished for the day (so I never got to see the blinking thing) and then flew out that night down to Mildenhall ready for the return journey on the Sunday.

The next day was a Friday and there parked up were the widebodies from the previous day along with an Air Transat L1011 (I believe for the US Press Corps). Later on that afternoon Hilary Clinton arrived on a VC-137 (which was so shiny you could have used it for a mirror).

That was it then for arrivals. The meeting was going on over the weekend with departures on the Sunday, so I made sure that I had some invoicing to do and volunteered to get it out of the way on the Sunday.

I managed to get into the office in time to see all bar one of the flights depart (one of the Japanese 747's escaped while I was en-route) but managed to see all of the other flights off. We also had some C5's and a C141 come in to collect some of the kit previously brought in. The C141 managed to do a wing wave after take off (boy did that aircraft smoke on take off) which was rather impressive.

The next week there were several other flights that came in to collect various bits of kit that did not depart on that day. Even now you can still see signs of the cement seals (not many but if you know where to look you can see them) as a reminder of this special period of time here at BHX.


How about the Clothing Freight Charters that we had I think In the 80's when a couple Of AN 22 came In when everyone was expecting IL 76's, they where great to see and truly massive when viewed from the MCP with each one was sitting on the western ramp before they built on It :s_sad
 

Aviador

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Not at Birmingham but this will have been one of the aircraft used into BHX.
image.php

Wardair Boeing 747-200 by White Heather, hosted on Forums4airports.com (Aviation Nostalgia Gallery)
 

tleeds

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Jan 23, 2011
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Just looking at that photo of Elmdon in 1939.. what a cracking terminal for an airport back then! Looks like something from London's richest airfields!
 

Ray Finkle

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tomleeds said:
Just looking at that photo of Elmdon in 1939.. what a cracking terminal for an airport back then! Looks like something from London's richest airfields!

Influenced by Templehof apparently.

Elmdon was opened in 1939 and replaced Castle Bromwich as the city's main airport. The terminal, with its overhanging canopies resembling aircraft wings, is unique amongst British airports. The design of the building was influenced by the terminal building of Tempelhof Airport, Berlin.

http://www.heritage-explorer.co.uk/web/ ... ir&large=1
 

CL44

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Jan 20, 2009
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Birmingham
The terminal at BHX always invokes good memories for me. I remember flying out of there on numerous flights (mainly Channel Islands and European destinations) with the family. I was lucky enough that my Father used to work locally for an Airline (which allowed staff travel privelidges) which gave me the opportunity to do a fair amount of travelling when it was considered exotic to go to Spain on holiday (my how times have changed!!!).

The terminal building was extended to allow for the increased PAX numbers and in later years this extension has been used as offices and a cafe.

The extension has now been removed and the terminal now (in the right light and if you squint a little bit) it looks just like it did when it was built. I do know that there was a fair amount of water damage during the heavy rain a couple of months ago. I understand that there is a budget to have the repairs done.

There are still clues around the old terminal building (and the surrounding area) as to when the terminal was in full time use (pre 1984). You can still picture where the baggage reclaim used to be (and where the old mortuary was). I can still picture the restaurant in the terminal building itself (now there was a place to eat, good food and an excellent view). When I was old enough I used to cycle out to the Airport just to see the flights coming in and out. Of course in that day and age there was no internet or dialy updates on arrivals for the spotters. We used to rely on people in the know. You could always tell when something interesting coming in as the spotters used to jockey for position on the steps at the side of the terminal just to get a good view. You were lucky then if you had an old set of binos (let alone a camera) but everything was done in good humour with us kids pushed into the front so we could have a good look. Happy Days :smile:
 

tleeds

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Jan 23, 2011
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Leeds
It's always good remembering your first few flights as a kid! I'm sure when I first started flying in the 90's, it was a very different experience!

I never knew how much of an operational base BHX was to Wardair.. B747/DC-10/A310..

Great pictures as well! :good:
 

Ash

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Oct 14, 2012
142
128
Europe
I recently came into possession of a small number of prints taken by my late grandfather at BHX and was wondering anyone could help me date them and possibly even find the reg's of the Air Europe and Aviogenex out of curiosity?

I'll upload them to the gallery too, better than them sitting in a box never to be looked at again.

[album]1567[/album][album]1563[/album][album]1562[/album][album]1564[/album][album]1566[/album][album]1565[/album]

Cheers,
Ash
 

Aviador

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Hi Ash, good to hear from you again and happy New year!

The top left picture with the former Yugoslavian airlines will probably have been taken back in the early 90's prior to the war and break up of Yugoslavia.
 
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