London Heathrow in the 1950s and 60s



These pictures date from 1957 to 1968, taken mainly on my Ilford Sportsman 35mm camera. My father snapped the two young spotters at Hatton Cross (self and kid brother) watching a Slick Airways DC-4 approaching runway 28 Left (as was) in 1957. The Alitalia Convair 440 was photographed from the same spot at the same time.




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Some of the pictures were taken on the North Side. The boundary fence would eventually be replaced by a more robust structure. Although the Central Area was brought into operation in 1955 for European flights, the North Side terminal and apron remained in use, mainly for long haul flights, until the Oceanic Terminal was opened in the Central Area in 1961.






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These pictures were taken from the Spectators' Gallery in the Central Area in August 1962.




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The British Eagle maintenance area was situated alongside runway 23 Left on the eastern side.



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R23L was brought into use when strong southwesterly winds were blowing. This group of aircraft were landing on this runway on a windy summer's day in 1968.




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At the end of 1968 Eagle ceased operations. Here is the grounded fleet.




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The BOAC maintenance area was located at Hatton Cross. This picture of BOAC and Qantas B707s was taken in 1962 from the top of a blast fence. Sadly 'FE came to grief four years later, disintegrating after encountering severe turbulence near Mount Fuji, Japan, with the loss of all on board. The Comet 4 was photographed on the same day.


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Two more photos taken at Hatton Cross in 1962. The two Cunard Eagle B707-400s were eventually subsumed into the BOAC fleet.


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On the evening of 6 November 1963 Trans Canada Airlines DC-8 CF-TJM was scheduled to operate LHR to Montreal (YUL/CYUL). The weather was poor, with fog banks swirling round the airport, resulting in varying runway visual range (RVR).

Following a failed attempt to takeoff from runway 28L, the captain decided to taxi to 28R because the runway visual range (RVR) was reported as 500 yards, whereas the RVR at 28L was 150 yards. While speeding through 132 knots on the take-off run the captain moved the control column back, but felt no response. Because the controls felt as though they were not connected, he decided to abort the takeoff. The DC-8 overran the runway at high speed and came to rest in a cabbage field, 800 yards past the end of the runway. It was later determined that the captain was mistaken in his belief that the elevator control system was defective. It is possible that crew fatigue was a contributory factor, resulting from the prolonged mental concentration required for extensive taxiing around the airport in very poor visibility.

The damaged DC-8 was guarded by a solitary police officer and the day after the incident it was possible for members of the public (and plane spotters) to wander round and take photos. The aircraft was repaired and returned to service but was subsequently (1967) destroyed in a training accident with the loss of the three flight deck crew.


nv1