The Vintage Planes, Trains and Automobiles Picture Show

I was sorting through some old files recently and came across some old tickets from when my father lived in the US and I would travel back and forth from the UK during the school holidays. Initially, from '77 I would fly Pan Am from Heathrow to Dulles International, Washington DC. Then in '80 he moved to Phoenix and for a while I would fly either BA to San Francisco or LAX and then on to Phoenix by American or Western, or TWA via Chicago O’Hare, or most often via Braniff International from Gatwick via Dallas Fort Worth. Braniff was always exciting as they flew some of the most distinctive aircraft in the skies - the huge orange 747s, called “the Big Orange” or “The Giant Pumpkin”. Inside was just acres of leather taken from Texan cattle. Everything else was orange, including the tickets and ticket holders. It brought back memories.

Here’s N602BN pushing back from Gatwick in June of 1980. Photo by M. Oertle

And here are some of the old tickets and boarding passes I found;



Ok, far from a vintage pic or plane, but look closely. Incredible photo.

I thought it might be appreciated.




This brought back memories to me too. In the early 80’s I was working at Gatwick but for a month was commuting from Windsor. I would often arrive at the airport just in time to see the orange on finals over Rusper Hill. You couldn’t miss it.
I think I am right in saying that British Caledonian acquired the aircraft and for an unknown reason its fuel consumption was 10% higher than any other similar engined 747. Perhaps it was the upholstery.
The photo was taken from the south terminal looking west. A much different view today. And all the carriers pictured are long gone!

I’m not sure what happened to BI’s 747s after they ceased operations - I’m sure there are sites online that can fill in the gaps.

Yes, all the carriers in the picture are sadly gone. You can’t quite see the 747 tail behind the Wardair jumbo and Pan Am Tristar, but IIRC it was Canadian Pacific who also ran a mostly orange 747. In the distance is a 747 of Northwest Orient who I flew with a lot to the US after Braniff folded. I also flew TWA regularly, both between Phoenix and Boston (Tristar) and between Boston and LHR. Their fleet was pretty old though by then with mostly the original 747-100s being used. I liked the Tristar though. I recall my father making sure I would only fly airlines that didn’t use DC-10s (United and AA used them a lot) - mainly because they had a pretty poor reputation back then for crashing, so TWA using Tristars on their long haul domestic routes were a favourite.

The DC-10 had a couple of unfortunate design flaws and some “unique” flight techniques but I really liked the aircraft. I flew a lot with BCal to Middle East and Continental to Newark. Business First in Continental was very good. Haagan Das with choice of hot toppings was a treat.
I don’t know why I kept this but another plane related memory.


Following on from travel tickets. Pic is our group travel ticket, April 1985 Irkutsk to Khabarovsk on the Trans Siberian Express in the USSR, a very memorable 3 days and nights on the train.


Orange predominantly, some red and a silver lower part. Also with CPs ‘Pac Man’ logo on the tail.

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Among Flight Crew, the DC-10 was known as the ‘Death Cruiser’; its successor, the MD-11, was thus obviously christened ‘More Death’.


Statistically I don’t believe the DC or MD was any less safe than other aircraft but I knew many of its crew that treated it differently in the flare due to its quirks. They kind of revelled in flying the aircraft.

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For some reason I found that DC-10s always seemed to land heavily and would sound like a bucket of bolts when on the ground. Particularly bad was the last DC-10 I flew on, which was with Varig around 20 years ago. That plane really did feel like it was on its last legs.

One of my worst flights was on a National Airlines DC10 flying from LHR to Miami around '78 or '79. All was fine until the captain mentioned on the tannoy that we were now flying over the Bermuda Triangle (I kid you not!) at which point, right on queue, we hit one air pocket after another and passengers, crew, and anything else not buckled down headed straight for the cabin ceiling. Plenty of screaming and crying, with luggage bins suddenly popping open, and one inner skin panel came loose down where we were at the back. Worst was the loose trolley that started running up and down the aisle and then after the worst was over, seeing the stewardess who was looking after us unaccompanied minors with blood running down her head and face and another who seemed to have injured her leg. Admittedly what had happened was no fault of the plane but I think it was that flight where any dreams I may have had of one day becoming a pilot soured somewhat.

My DC-10 experience was coming out of Minneapolis in summer 1991 (Northwest Airlines) and heading for Seattle with the pilot trying to avoid a thunderstorm, not entirely successfully. As the plane had been delayed for 2 hours while it was fixed, I tried to avoid thinking of Not the Nine O’clock News:

“ I am prepared to say Col. Sanders can fry!
And that pigs and even DC-10s can fly!”

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The graceful beauty of the Duxford VC-10 today


AirSpace, IWM Duxford, yesterday


Duxford’s Shackleton still in the early stages of its restoration


The VC10 is such beautiful airliner, never more so than in the final BOAC Speedbird livery. Sadly the full British Airways livery didn’t suit it at all and they always looked a bit down at heel to my eyes. I flew in a BA VC10 coming back early from Nassau - early because BA were going on strike so there was a mad dash to get back to the UK. The plane was packed and due to the rush at least one passenger hadn’t had time to have their Conch shell hollowed out and cleaned. I was sat at the back of the plane as usual with the other UMs (always in the smoking section!) when about an hour into the flight the most awful smell was wafting out of the galley. Turned out it was a Conch that the crew had tried to refrigerate, but the fridge was malfunctioning and instead it was being gently warmed up with malodorous consequences!


I too had a DC-10 experience flying out of Minneapolis to Gatwick on NW.
Mid flight the center/tail fin engine started making a hell of a grinding noise, enough to walk me up, quickly followed by vibrations and the engine shut down. Pilot came on to tell us that the engine had shut down, don’t worry it’s OK flying on two engines, but as a precaution we will go to the nearest airport at Reykjavik.
Whatever we ended up flying a further 2 or 3 hours to land at Glasgow (why they did not carry on to Gatwick is a mystery)
We had to disembark out on an apron (in the rain) so was able to see the engine damage. The front fan had blown apart and the nacelle was peppered with holes …… made me wonder what chances of engine debris puncturing the fuselage.
Whatever, NW (bless-’em) abandoned us at Glasgow and I had to buy my own ticket to Gatwick.

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Jeez… That wasn’t very… safe. What year was this…? A while ago, I guess. Really should have gone to Reykjavik. I think going to Glasgow could have been a ‘commercial’ decision. Easier to deal with, for NW.

More recently, I think it was Virgin got a telling off, for continuing a trans Atlantic flight to Heathrow or Gatwick, when not long out of New York, when they lost an engine (out of 4). It was a commercial decision, they admitted. Hmmm…

Hi @IanRobertM … yes it was a while ago, early 1990’s (ish)
Minneapolis was my cmpy HQ & I flew there 3 to 5 times a year.
Yes I agree landing in Glasgow must have been a commercial desision, I suspect something in the small print about getting to UK dischanrged their responsibilities.
Whatever that was the last time I flew with them, I changed my routing to go BA from LHR to ORD (Chicago) & layover for a local flight on to Minneapolis. The BA partner American Airlines 1st class lounge made a few hours pass very pleasantly outbound & the BA lounge on the return … those were the days

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My trip TO Minneapolis was on a rickety 747 (North West) that took 2 hours to get working at Gatwick then finally got a slot. As we rattled down the runway I wasn’t sure I wanted to fly in it at all. The DC-10 delay and storm on the connecting flight just served to ensure I never booked with NW again!

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