Thursday, 24 January 2013

Vickers Viscounts - Memories

Talking about Viscounts, I was privileged to be aboard the last flight of an Air Zimbabwe 700 series (before airframe expiry) in 1985, when we used it on a charter to take businessmen on a trade mission from Harare, Zimbabwe to Lubumbashi in Zaire/Congo.
The machine had been purchased by Central African Airways in the late 1950's and had served with CAA, Air Rhodesia and then Air Zimbabwe. It was still kitted out with a navigator's table behind the pilot's position as it had been originally used in the late '50's for scheduled 72 hours flights to London via various airports up the Nile route. I used the navigator's table on the 3 hour flight back to write my mission report and enjoy the view as we crossed the Zambesi Valley!
I also used to travel on Air Rhodesia Viscounts between Salisbury, Rhodesia and Jan Smuts, Jo'burg between 1972 and 1976. I flew the route about 60 times. It got so boring that I used to sit in an aisle seat and was able to tell by the tone of the plane's engines and time where we were en route.
35 minutes - Finished climbing and levelling off over Masvingo, (Fort Victoira/Great Zimbabwe)
1hr 10min - Crossing into South Africa over the Limpopo at Beitbridge.
1hr 45min - Beginning descent into Jan Smuts over Potgietersrus.
2hr 5min - banking to starboard over the Magaliesberg range north of Pretoria to avoid the restricted airspace of the Waterkloof Airbase.
2hr 15min - banking to port for final approach to Jan Smuts.
2hr 30min - land at Jan Smuts!