2 hrs. 32 mins.
- Additional information
BEA (British European Airways), was a division of the state owned BOAC formed in 1946 to run the passenger air services to Continental Europe and within the UK that had been operated by the RAF during the Second World War. Most of BEA’s immediate post-war operations were out of Northolt using old piston-engined Vickers Vikings and DC-3 Dakotas. These were followed by the first turbo-prop airliner, the Vickers Viscount then by the Vickers Vanguard, the DH Comet 4 and The Hawker Siddeley Trident series.There is a nostalgic look at flying from Northolt in 1949 before a series of hard hitting news stories such as The Viking Vigilant with a huge hole in the fuselage caused by a time-bomb detonated over the Channel. In 1953, another Viking hit a mast on its approach to Belfast – there were no survivors. The worst disaster was in 1965 when a BEA Vickers Vanguard made three attempts to land in fog at London Airport – it somersaulted down the runway killing all on board. ITN’s Peter Snow gives a graphic description of the crash.
Ironically, BEA were the pioneers of the Automatic Landing System (Autoland) originally on the Trident Fleet and for this BEA was awarded the Queen’s Award For Industry.1955 saw severe strikes at London Airport. Gatwick was opened in 1958 becoming London’s second airport and BEA soon became a leader in the package tour industry and the first airline to offer a local helicopter service.Other aircraft featured in this definitive and exciting overview of this much-missed airline include the Airspeed Ambassador, the BAC 1-11, the Boeing 707, the Hawker Siddeley Argosy, the Dragon Rapide and many, many more. BEA was amalgamated with BOAC in 1974 to form the British Airways of today.