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In Your Dreams

We've been watching the new Thomson Dreamliner coming and going, so I thought I'd mention that I had the chance to test-drive...

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Two-Ship Mission

The Dominie and Faithful Annie are lined up on the apron...

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Flight bookings can now be made on line using a debit or credit card for flights up until 30th September 2013...

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Dreams of Flying

Thomson's new Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been showing its colours around the airfield since yesterday. I confess to marginal...

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Fathers Day Flights now avialble on-line!...

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No Dakota will ever win prizes for quiet travel, but G-AMRA is surprisingly refined by comparison with the more spartan G-AMPY. She's fully fitted-out inside as a forties airliner, with noise-suppressing linig between you and those bellowing engines. Quieter she may be, but slower she most definitely is! All that extra weight makes her slower and thirstier than her sister. But we don't keep them to break records, so who's counting?

G-AMRA was another DC-3 built at Douglas Aircraft’s Santa Monica plant in California. Ordered by the USAAF in 1943 as 43-49474 it wasn’t until mid 1944 that it rolled off the production line. Too late to be of much use to the USAAF it was transferred to the Royal Air Force and taken on charge on November 25, 1944 and given the RAF serial KK151. Initially allocated to the RAF Holding flight at Montreal in Canada it was later transferred to 300 Wing of the Royal Air Force in Canada on March 3, 1945.

KK151 was subsequently ferried to the UK in April 1946 and joined 525Sqn at RAF Abingdon on June 13. I was allocated the markings WF-B, and retained those codes when it transferred to 238Sqn (also at Abingdon) in December of that year. It remained at Abingdon until April 25, 1949 when it transferred to 46Sqn at RAF Oakington, Cambs. In doing so it shed its WF-B codes and became XK-R.

It was soon deemed surplus to requirements and on September 17, 1949 it was ferried to 12 MU at RAF Kirkbride, Cumbria for a period of storage. Like KK116 (G-AMPY) it was acquired by Jerome Anthony Wilson on March 8, 1952 and placed on the British civil register as G-AMRA.

Unlike G-AMPY, G-AMRA was not put into service with Starways but was sold on to Airwork Ltd (on April 11, 1953), principally operating on RAF trooping flights between the UK and the Middle East. Interestingly it was allotted the RAF serial number of XE280 for use when carrying out such operations.

In September 1956, Airwork took over another UK charter airline, Transair Ltd, and G-AMRA was transferred to and operated by that airline. In July 1960, Airwork merged with Hunting-Clan, Air Charter, Silver City and other smaller independent UK airlines to form British United Airways (BUA). Accordingly, the registered owner of G-AMRA was changed to BUA on September 5, 1960.

In 1962 the aircraft was transferred to Morton Air Services Ltd, one of the constituent airlines of BUA and ownership changed again on June 3, 1970, this time to British and Commonwealth Shipping Company (Aviation) Ltd. The aircraft was actually operated by British Island Airways (BIA) from Gatwick and BIA eventually became G-AMRA’s registered owner on April 16, 1973.

In January 1974, Site Aviation of Aberdeen acquired the last three Dakotas operated by BIA including GAMRA although only the latter was delivered to the airline. It operated just one flight before being repossessed by its former owner! This was the start of a series of failed attempts to make G-AMRA earn her keep...

On March 15 she was sold again, this time to Macedonian Aviation Ltd of Southend--on-Sea, but with the collapse of that airline in November that year, ownership passed to Humber Airways Ltd on December 30 1974. Humber Airways planned to operate it on contract work, operating flights through Aberdeen in support of the North Sea Oil Rig industry, but unfortunately such contracts were not forthcoming and the aircraft never entered service, instead remaining in Exeter.

Finally, in July 1976, G-AMRA was purchased by Intra Airways Ltd, who successfully operated it on their network of passenger schedules based on the Channel Island of Jersey for the next two years. Lease Air Ltd (subsequently renamed as Eastern Airways), based at Humberside Airport, became the registered owners of the aircraft on July 18, 1978 and operated it until October 21, 1981 when the aircraft was sold to the Air Atlantique Group.

Like so many of the Air Atlantique Dakota fleet G-AMRA has served in various roles but is currently maintained in passenger configuration awaiting the day when she is able to return to the skies carrying enthusiastic ‘self loading freight’!