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G-AMSV Returns to Coventry

An old friend returned to Coventry yesterday when G-AMSV, in her striking Indian Air force livery, landed here for extensive maintenance by our engineers. Sierra Victor was part of the Air Altantique fleet here for many years. She'll...

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Baginton Air Pageant

The initial details for the Baginton Air Pageant are up on the website! As we don't have the space for a full-on air show attracting 20,000 or so people, we're aiming for low-key, themed days like this. A couple of thousand people,...

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Newquay Pleasure flights

We promised we'd be back to fly in Cornwall, and here we are. We'll be heading south with a Rapide and Chipmunk to spend a week at Newquay from 25th July, with a further visit planned in August. The flights are bookable in the normal...

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New Dakota Book

Geoff Jones just told me that his new book on the DC-3, released to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Dak's appearance, is now available. The cover sports a lovely shot of G-ANAF, shot by Simon Westwood before her radome goiter was...

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Nimrod Engine Run

We've just confirmed plans by NPT to run all four of the Nimrod's Rolls-Royce Speys on Saturday 9th May. We expect the thunder to start just after lunchtime. Come along and enjoy some audio power - and please dip into your pockets...

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From the Blog Header
Become a member of the Classic Air Force
Status: Not flyable at present
Owned by: Air Atlantique
Current location: Coventry
Available for pleasure flights: No

If there's one aircraft on our fleet that inspires stronger emotion than all the others it's the Twin Pioneer, or "Twin-Pin" as we call it.  To understand why you'd need to see it in action.  It's a big, imposing beast of an aircraft - unlike its stablemates, referring to it as "she" would be quite out of place - with a muscular, hunched presence on the runway.  Built to take on the roughest, shortest strips in jungles, on ice floes, or quite possibly on Mars, it looks as if it could head-butt the Alps and not come off second-best.

In flight, those high shoulders shrug off the laws of physics as if they apply only to lesser aircraft.  On take-off with just a puff of headwind, the tailwheel rises before the aeroplane begins moving.  Then it rolls about the length of a billiard table before lifting off and rising like a suspicious bubble in a bathtub.  When it comes to landing it seems, to borrow Douglas Adams's phrase, to hang in the air in the same way that a brick doesn't.

Now you're getting the idea: the Twin-Pin is special.

Our Twin Pioneer was built by Scottish Aviation at Prestwick in 1959 as a Series 1 airframe. It had been ordered by Philippine Airlines but they never took delivery of the aircraft and its first registered owner was its manufacturer, Scottish Aviation Ltd.

The aircraft entered the British civil register as G-APRS and received its initial Certificate of Airworthiness on September 16 of that year. The following day G-APRS was delivered to Fisons-Airwork Ltd, to whom it had been leased. The aircraft was then sub-let on contract to Shell/BP in support of their oil exploration work in Nigeria until the middle of May 1960.

From May to September 1960, the aircraft was leased to Deutsche Taxiflug in Manheim, Germany but it then went into store over the winter of 1960/61. Still unable to find a new owner the aircraft was leased out once again in March 1961, this time to British United Airways (BUA), for operation by Sierra Leone Airways. It stayed in Sierra Leone until September.

From November 1961 until the following G-APRS was leased to the Kuwait Oil Company and at the end of the contract it returned to Scottish Aviation who then converted it to Series 3 standard. Its civil registration was cancelled on March 19, 1965 when the aircraft was transferred to the Ministry of Technology and delivered to the Empire Test Pilot's School (ETPS) at RAE Farnborough. It was allocated the serial XT610 and coded '22' during its service with ETPS. It subsequently transferred to Boscombe Down when ETPS relocated.

After nearly ten years of military service the aircraft was released for sale and on January 30, 1975 it was registered to Flight One Ltd as G -BCWF. Flight One based the aircraft at Staverton, Gloucestershire and flew it around the UK on various survey contracts, including photographic mapping and heat loss surveys. Thermal imaging test equipment was installed in the aircraft which identified buildings which were suffering significant heat loss through poor insulation. The aircraft only flew when there was contract work available and it was placed in store from time to time at both Staverton and Shobdon.

In the early 1990's, Flight One experienced financial difficulties and the aircraft was repossessed and placed into storage. It was purchased by the Air Atlantique Group on November 2, 1993 and on December 9 it reverted to its original registration as G-APRS. (She is also affectionately known as ‘Primrose’ amongst Air Atlantique staff, named after the last three letters of her registration!)

Since acquiring the aeroplane Air Atlantique has used it for passenger pleasure flying, airshow flights and air displays. In addition, it has returned to Boscombe Down from time to time for use by the ETPS where it continues to give trainee test pilots a very different piloting experience. This ETPS work resulted in it gaining a red, white and blue ‘Raspberry Ripple’ scheme as worn by many of the ETPS fleet.

In recent years the aircraft has been grounded due to the available fatigue ‘life’ on the wing attachments struts. The amount of service these items can see before replacement is limited and as the early days of the aircraft are fairly poorly documented the authorities have implied a ‘worst case scenario’ to that life. Replacement struts were purchased in Australia but did not fit G-APRS. Luckily Air Atlantique has a huge library of blueprints and technical drawings – but they are not indexed or archived. An intensive search has been made by members of the Ground Support Team in an attempt to find the drawings to create replacement brackets. As these words were written the chances of seeing Primrose return to the skies look very promising.