This time we are going back to the 2003 Classic Airshow at Coventry Airport, which was held in the weekend of 31st May and 1st June. It promised to be a great weekend of meeting friends and a display flying propliners. Prior to the Airshow I had contact with a renowned British aviation photographer Graham Robson and we decided to meet up on the Friday afternoon. I flew across the North Sea with KLM UK Fokker 70 and landed at Humberside airport. From there we raced to North weald airport in search of two DC-4 Skymaster and PBY Catalina's. The next day we woke to excellent summer weather and made our way to Coventry airport. Coventry main base operator
Air Atlantique's promised a heavy participation, which included the Douglas DC3, DC-6, Twin Pioneer and the Lockheed L-188 Electra. Additional theme was the 100th year of Powered Flight.
Along the static propliners was the Avro Shackleton MR2 (AEW2), which came into action on both days with a wonderful ground run of all 4 engines. Somewhere along the static was a lone Antonov An-2 to be admired. The French connection was in the form of the odd looking Nord Noratlas. It gave a spirited display which involved a steep short field dive to the runway. Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Sally B, represented the early post was years and she made her mark. From Holland came the world only flyable Douglas DC-2 and she also participated in the flying display, together with several Douglas DC-3 sister ships. Making one of its final appearances, before heading back to the US, was Bill Da Silva immaculate Grumman HU-16C Albatross. The early turboprop era was represented by the Lockheed L-118 Electra. Both Air Atlantique DC-6 and the Electra appeared in the show grand finale, which included a spectacular demonstration of the Oil Spill Pollution Control capability. It was followed by a mass take-off of DC-2, DC-3s and the two DC-6s.
During the weekend it was possible to take many pleasure flights onboard an array of Air Atlantique aircraft. I decided to take a ride onboard the bright red Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer G-APRS (c/n 561). Around 09.00 Saturday morning we went up for a 30-40 flight. Under the guidance of Captain Stuart Bygry and Simon Chambers we climb into the air. Surprisingly the Twin Pioneer sounded a bit like a DC-3. The weekend ended with a nice meal, which was shared with many international aviation photographers.
A bit of history on the G-APRS:
The Twin Pioneer or 'Twin Pin' as it has come to be known first flew in March 1958. The C.C.1 was the military version of the civil transport. Like its predecessor, the single pioneer, it was capable of short field take off and landings. Six squadrons were equipped with the machine. G-APRS, the only remaining flying example in the northern Hemisphere was built in Presswork and first flew on the 13th of September 1959. She was originally ordered by Philippine Airlines as PI-C430, but sale never went through.
She went into service with Fisons on aerial survey work for six months. After that she went to Germany where she flew for the Deutsche Taxylus- an air taxi operator. In March 1961 'Romeo Seara' returned to Prestwick for overhaul and minor modifications before joining the British United Airways, initially operating for Sierra Leone Airlines for about 12 months. She became XT610 for the RAF in January 1962, returning to the UK civil register as G-BCWF. She was converted to a series 3 aircraft version.
In February 1975 at Staverton Flight One on behalf of British Aerospace operated her. Air Atlantique acquired her and re-registered her to the original G-APRS. She is currently painted in the Empire Test Pilots School at Boscombe Down for whom she served in her Airforce days. She continues to be used from time to time for the current test pilot courses, as it is unlikely that a candidate has experienced the unique flight characteristics of such an aeroplane. The Twin pioneer continued in service with the Royal Air Force until December 1968, in the role of jungle troop transport, operating from hastily prepared strips. Air Atlantic used her for passenger charters, pleasure flights and air-show displays. Currently she is grounded at Coventry airport.