Sunday, 5 May 2013

Air Rhodesia's B720s — "a riddle wrapped in a mystery"

By Mitch Stirling (Air Rhodesia)

Rhodesians, dispersed throughout the world, have watched in utter dismay as their once-proud national carrier has stalled and nosedived into obscurity, its demise unprecedented in the annals of aviation history. International aviation watchers and plane spotters have been greatly saddened by this unhappy turn of events — inspired by politics and fuelled by ignorance and incompetence.

Built from the remains of Central African Airways, Air Rhodesia Corporation was formalized on 1 September 1967. Once described as "a small airline with a big heart" it faced many challenges during its short years of existence but emerged with a reputation second to none as one of the better smaller airlines in the world. But a report in Time Magazine signalled the beginning of the end for the airline. 

          "For the first time in 21 years the United Nations Security Council resorted to mandatory sanctions to bring down a government. The council declared an international embargo on 90% of Rhodesia's exports and forbade the UN's 122 member-nations to sell oil, arms, motor vehicles and aeroplanes to the Smith regime following a Unilateral Declaration of  Independence on 11 November 1965." 

During those troubled times Air Rhodesia's operation depended on its ageing fleet of Vickers Viscounts and Douglas Dakotas but, faced with the growing burden of international sanctions and worrisome passenger loads, management realized that more competitive aircraft types were needed on their Africa routes if they were to survive. The solution to the problem appeared on the evening of the 14th April 1973 as Captain Roy Downes was taxiing out in a Viscount at Salisbury (FRSB) for the scheduled departure to Bulawayo (FRBU). He clearly recalls seeing three large, blacked-out "shadows" landing in quick succession. This was followed by a cryptic message in the Rhodesia Herald on that Easter weekend: 

      "To Pat and Ray, congratulations on the arrival of the triplets." Pat Travers, then general manager of Air Rhodesia, was delighted.

Boeing 720-4.
Boeing 720 -1.
Prime Minister Ian Smith said,

      "For a long time we have been trying to get something like this to give a boost to Air Rhodesia and we never knew whether it was going to succeed or not; I am thrilled."

Pilots' Association of Rhodesia chairman Captain Robin Hood announced,

  "It's a wonderful feeling knowing at last the day has arrived."  
The Triplets

But the questions in the minds of all Rhodesians was:  who was flying them, how did they get here, from where had they come?

Over the years these unanswered questions have remained shrouded in mystery. The "facts" about their purchase and delivery have been muddled and contradictory and the identities of the air crews involved and their friends around the world have remained secret — as under international law they were all liable for prosecution. So the jet trails were deliberately erased and smoke screens were released in the news media to deceive British government and CIA investigators. 

Speculation grew. The BBC suggested that they had come from Bern in Switzerland via Lisbon and Lourenco Marques. A strange South American millionaire was involved. A front organization in Paraguay bought them third hand. Secret flight plans had been filed from Lisbon to Paraguay. Jet Aviation in Switzerland was involved and Eastern Airlines in Miami. As political negotiations with the British government were in progress at the time, some thought it might have been a settlement deal in anticipation of a political break-through. Perhaps there was South African involvement? The aircraft had changed hands through a shady middle man and an unregistered company in Liechtenstein with PK van der Byl connections. Henry Kissinger was behind it all. Others thought it was an expensive propaganda ploy. A load of second-hand rubbish, said some critics. It was reported that some Air Rhodesia crews had been in training at SAA and TAP. Vague phrases began to appear in the tabloids:  

   "Sources close to government said..." 

   "It was reported that..." 

   "The alleged aircraft were cast-offs from an aviation world, changing to wide-body jets." 

The "facts" were... nobody was really sure and those who knew were not saying a word. It remained one of the best-kept secrets in aviation, although Mr Elie Zelouf of Jet Aviation, Basel said the operation had taken 10 years off his life with M15 or M16 pitching up in Basel demanding explanations. Air Rhodesia management refused to comment, except to say it was a package deal. Minister of Transport Roger Hawkins broke official silence on 17 April '73 with the brief announcement that VP-YNL Matabeleland, VP-YNM Mashonaland and VP-YNN Manicaland had been added to the Air Rhodesia fleet in defiance of United Nations sanctions. Shortly after a member of the British parliament was heard to say, "The aircraft will sit on the ground as Rhodesia will not be able to get spare parts."  Wrong;  the aircraft were maintained in beautiful condition by the engineers at Air Rhodesia's workshops at Salisbury, whose ingenuity had been long-since tested by futile United Nations sanctions.

Vic MacKenzie cartoon.

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing and engine manufacturer Pratt and Whitney announced that they would cut off spares to any airline indirectly supplying spares to Air Rhodesia. "We have had extreme difficulties", said chief engineer, Henry Radnitz, "but we have overcome the lot." Those difficulties involved refurbishing and re-equipping some fairly weather-beaten machines. Some spares were actually designed and built in the Air Rhodesia workshops... often better than the original parts. Engine overhauls were carried out and a new engine test bed was constructed. Air crews, ground crews and all aircraft handlers had to be brought up to speed in a new "jet age" in Rhodesia. Marking their new identity were dark and light blue cheat lines on the fuselage with a stylized red Zimbabwe bird and Rhodesian flag on the upper tail fins.

720 on Apron

Jameson Hotel, Salisbury Menu With Signatures - 25th April 1973.

IDS (Rhodesian Prime Minister) on the jump-seat.

During the early days the threesome could be seen behind a tall security fence around the maintenance area at Air Rhodesia's headquarters at Salisbury main, away from the public gaze. But the circuit at Salisbury airport was alive with the crackling sound of JT3C turbojet engines as they laid down dark exhaust trails. More air crews, their careers stunted by sanctions, were eventually converting to jets.


I remember gazing at the Triplets through the diamond mesh of the security fence when I was a young flight instructor. Perhaps even dreaming a little as I admired those BIG birds... so near, yet so far away. They looked like 707s but were shorter by about 4 metres. They were structurally lighter, said the technical manuals, with ventral fins and wing "gloves" between the fuselage and inner engine pylons to increase the Mach number in the cruise and improve the takeoff and landing performance. Said Flight Engineer Bob Fletcher in years to come,

   "Their stove pipe engines, with 12 000 lbs of thrust at ISA sea level turned fuel into noise and only provided thrust as a bi-product, but we loved 'em."

Take off (only 65 of original B720s were built)
On Camera

Air scoops above the inner engines were notable features too. Fresh air from these intakes was routed to turbo compressors which, combined with 12th/ 9th stage bleed air from the engines, was the primary source of cabin pressurization. This created a problem at top of descent when thrust was reduced to idle, as the engine bleed was now insufficient to supply enough air. The flight engineer and pilots had to work closely to control the pressurization with throttle and coordinate the descent profile. Freon was used as a coolant for air conditioning. Big leading edge Krueger flaps were a notable feature too, used to enhance take-off performance. In short, the B720 was an aircraft well-suited for Air Rhodesia's Africa route requirements. They were high-speed, designed for short haul and intermediate stage lengths and with a passenger configuration of 126, a cruise speed of 930km/h and a range of 3 700 km they compared favourably with South African Airways B727 trijets.
Boeing 720 Flight Patterns                                        
Limitations
Relevant text reads;-
LIMITATIONS 

MAX. TAXY WEIGHT - 230 000 lbs
MAX. T/O GROSS WEIGHT - 229 000 lbs
MAX. ZERO FUEL WEIGHT -149 000 lbs
MAX. LANDING WEIGHT - 175 000 lbs
VMO:- SEA LEVEL - 378
5 000' - 380
10 000' - 383
23 500' - 398
MM0:- 23 500' AND ABOVE - MO.906
AUTO-PILOT ENGAGED - VMO AND MMO
LANDING LIGHTS - VMO
GEAR LOWERING: TO 30 000 - VLO 270
30 000 & ABOVE - VLO 280 OR MO. 83
GEAR EXTENDED - VLE 285 OR MO.83
GEAR EMERGENCY DESCENT - VLO 320 OR MO.90
VLE 340 OR MO. 90
FLAPS 20° - VFE 220
30° - VFE 210
50° - VFE 185
LEADING EDGE FLAPS DO NOT RETRACT - VNE 230 KTS
PURL DUMP CHUTE - VDCO 240 OR MO.83
VDCE 275 OR MO.83
CARGO FAIRING DOOR - VNE 250
MINIMUM CONTROL SPEED (T/O THRUST)VMCG 100
VMCA 100
MIN. CONTROL SPEED 2 ENG - IN0P
SAME SIDE VMCA 135
MIN.CONTROL SPEED OUTBOARD ENG-.
INOP AND RUDDER BOOST INOP - VMCA135
MIN.CONTROL SPEED 2 ENG.IN0P SAME
SIDE AND RUDDER BOOST IN0P. - VMCA 165
RUDDER BOOST 1 000 PSI. - VMCA 110
M TRIM INOP: NORMAL - VNE 0,81
EMERGENCY DESCENT 0,86
TURBULENCE SPEED - 280 OR MO.80
(WHICH EVER IS LOWER)
MAX .IN-FLIGHT WEIGHT AT WHICH RESERVES MAY BE EMPTY - 180 000
RESERVE TANKS MUST BE FULL WHEN IN-FLIGHT GROSS WEIGHT EXCEED - 185 000
T/O AND LANDING LIMITS: TEMP - -54°c TO ISA +34°C
ALTITUDE (AIRFIELD) -1000 TO 8300'
(PRESS ALT)
RUNWAY SLOPE - ± 2%
MAX. TAILWIND - 10 KTS
ALTITUDE - 0 TO 42000' (PRESS ALT)
CABIN PRESSURIZATION:
MAX. DIFFERENTIAL - 8,6psi ± 0,15psi
RELIEF VALVE SETTING - 9,42psi ± 0,15psi
CROSSWIND LIMITATION: T/O - 29 KTS
LANDING 25 KTS
STARTING - 29
NORMAL STARTER LIMITS - 30 secs ON/60 secs OFF
SLOW STARTING ENGINE - 1 ON/1 OFF/1 0N/5 MNS OFF
MOTORING WITH FUEL AND IGNITION OFF: 2 MNS ON/5 MNS OFF
START LEVER TO START LIGHT UP WITHIN: 20 SECS
START EGT MAX. - MOM 610°C 450°
OIL PRESSURE. 5 PSI WITHIN 10 SECS
ACCEL. TO 50% N2 SHOULD OCCUR WITHIN: 2 MNS
T/O 620
                                                                                                         
Normal Take Off 20 ° or 30 °
Relevant text reads:-
Index
L4 - V2+10

L5 - 500' (min) Flaps 20/30° V2+10 Min Max 15° Bank Turn into Heading OR V2+30 Max 30° Bank Turn Into Heading

L6 - On Heading Accelrate to V2+30 Flaps° Climb Thrust After T/O CHecks

L7 - 250KTS After T/O Checklist

L8 - Fl 100 290 KTS

L9 - M-77

R1 - 1000' AGL Accelrate V2+10 - Flaps 20°, V2+30 - Flaps )°

R2 - V2+50 Climb Thrust After T/O Checks

R3 - 250KTS After T/O Checklist

R4 FL 100 290 KTS

R5 FL300 M.TT

B1 - V1
B2 - VR Rotate Smoothly to 8° Nose Up
B3 Postive RoC Alt and VSI Gear up


Approach to Stall and Recovery

ILS 2 Engine Inoperative

First Scheduled Salisbury to Durban (South Africa)                                 

The new additions were placed on the Salisbury-Johannesburg route on 31 August 1973 and on the Salisbury-Durban route the following day. In November they supplemented the Viscounts on the tourist class service to Johannesburg as well as providing a service to Beira, Lourenco Marques and Durban. Blantyre remained a Viscount destination. Flying time on the Johannesburg run was now reduced from 155 minutes to 85 minutes in the jet. The first international jet commercial flight was a Dods Brooks rugby charter from Salisbury to Durban on 6 July 1973, the 27th anniversary of Captain Tony Beck's time with the airline. It began with a flight to Bulawayo where embarking passengers were inconvenienced by the late arrival of some Plumtree school boys who delayed the flight — its first departure from Bulawayo. This in turn resulted in a delayed Salisbury to Durban departure for the VIP passengers, the Rhodesian rubgy team, plus B team, Under 20s and all their supporters destined for the Currie Cup game against Natal. They were not amused! No comment came from the Headmaster of Plumtree school, as his boys were on a Rhodes and Founders break. It was a slippery "side step" by old JB Clarke, as good as any rugby international's.

Captain Tony Beck with Ron Maskell, Henry Radnitz (Head of Engineering) and Jack Cocking.
But to return to the mystery of who/how/where... what better person to ask than Captain James "Horse" Sweeney who was a member of the original delivery crews? Only he and Flight Engineer Taffy Powell are alive today to tell the tale. "Horse" tells the story in his own words in Part 2 of this article, along with some very interesting photographs and documents from Flight Engineer Jock Elphinstone's old photo albums........ 

End


Thanks to Mitch for sharing this information and photographs with ORAFs.
Thanks also to my daughter Denise Taylor for her assistance.


FURTHER INFORMATION 

AIR RHODESIA B720 ENGINE TYPES.
By Mitch Stirling (Air Rhodesia)

There was some controversy over the B720 engine types (you might recall?)

Here's some of John Reid-Rowland's hand-written notes that will put it to bed.

If you are able to attach the page to the comments on your blog, that would be great


Thanks Mitch for sharing this information with ORAFs and thanks to John for his assistance.


For ORAfs subscribers - I have had to increase the size of the document to make it visible and readable. Should you require a copy of this note please contact me and I wilL geT it off to you.


Suggested reading.
Sanction Slipping (Air Rhodesia's Boeings are worth a lot.)
Visit. http://rhodesianheritage.blogspot.com/2013/05/sanction-slipping-air-rhodesias-boeings.html

Air Rhodesia's Boeing 720s.... continued
Visit. http://rhodesianheritage.blogspot.com/2013/05/air-rhodesias-boeing-720s-continued.html

Those Embargo-busting Jets
Visit. http://rhodesianheritage.blogspot.com/2013/06/those-embargo-busting-jets.html 

Comments are always welcome, please mail them to Eddy Norris at orafs11@gmail.com


Ref. Rhodesia

     

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21 Comments:

At 7 May 2013 at 09:50 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Gordon Hall (Air Rhodesia)

Well done guys ! What a great time that was ! The Engineering guys did magnificently updating
those aircraft. Made us all proud that we had put one over outside world. What a country we had
and I really miss those days - even the call ups !
All the best and God bless !

 
At 7 May 2013 at 09:53 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Mike Daly (Air Rhodesia) Writes:-

Thank you for posting Mitch’s wonderful article. This all happened just as I left Air Rhodesia

 
At 7 May 2013 at 09:55 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Nick Baalbergen (Intaf) Writes:-

I presume 'Part Two' of the story will be posted shortly - you have left us all 'hanging'!
(Nick - easy fella - part two is coming, Mitch and I are just chilling for now)

 
At 7 May 2013 at 09:59 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Chris Higginson (Affretair?) Wrote in a email to Gerry Cleveland (PRAW):-

There isn't much mystery attached to the demise of Air Rhodesia/ Zimbabwe.

The purchase of the 720's was a mess.

When I was in the US doing a DC8 course with United Airlines in January 1973 for Afretair, the guys at United offered us three Boeing 720's for $500,000. With spares!

Then after a bit of thought they offered us Five aircraft for $300,000.
In other words, they couldn't give them away.

Air Rhodesia bought three for, if I remember correctly, 3.5 million dollars without training or any spares to speak of.

The only thing that may have been good was the temporary rise in morale in the country, because the people didn't know what a useless aircraft it was.

Air Rhodesia even tried to force Jack Malloch to use them on the Libreville meat run.
The DC8 could carry could carry from 36 to 38 tons on that route, the 720 with no freight doors and all the seats out could carry about three tons.
Hand loaded.

There was a meeting with PK van der Byl, all the Air Rhodesia board and Jack Malloch, and Jack told them that AR should never have been allowed to buy such a useless piece of kit. Then he walked out.

We had to put up with various Air Rhodesia pilots coming over to Afretair to learn how to fly jets. Quite a number had to be sent back!

There were lots of unhappy decisions made in Air Rhodesia/Air Zimbabwe over the years.

I worked for CAA on the ground in Operations for a couple of years over the UDI period and also flew for them for three years.

Probably the least enjoyable flying of my career.

 
At 7 May 2013 at 10:00 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Eddy Norris (ORAFs) replied to Chris's email:-

Chris – shame that you never disclosed al this information before. Mind you, perhaps I am the only one that never knew the story, if so, my apologies.

 
At 7 May 2013 at 10:01 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Chris Higginson replied to ORAFs as such:-
I have flown for a wide variety of companies and a vast amount of nationalities in places all over the world, and the back biting and in-fighting in AR was terrible. It often happens when companies contract, as after the breakup of CAA, but I found it particularly distasteful.
There was also a problem with so little promotion for so many years.
There were some fine guys in CAA, but also some mega assholes.

At least they served a purpose, because I was able to recognise the type when I came across them in other places!

 
At 7 May 2013 at 15:10 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 8 May 2013 at 15:54 , Blogger lindamaclean said...

My father, John Heap, was so very proud of the 'triplets'. If I remember rightly, they arrived in the middle of the night, all beautifully dressed in their Air Rhodesia livery and little identification. As an 'air hostess' they were great to work on and I have many great memories of happy flights and great crews.

 
At 9 May 2013 at 08:32 , Blogger Cacho Cabral said...

Well, well… all I can comment is that I am eternally grateful that I came as a 21 year old from Uruguay to Rhodesia and that I joined RH and then Affretair, for what was without a doubt the most memorable years of my life. Today, after having made a successful business career, I can only look back and be very grateful for those wonderful days, with great people that achieved so much, that pioneered so much, from whom I learnt a lot.
In many flying hours with Affretair, I observed that a few aircrew were never happy and always ready to criticize… eternally having full ownership of the sole truth.
I learnt much from that too! So, thank you guys!!
Warmest regards to you all, Cacho Cabral, (Bantry Bay, Cape Town)

 
At 9 May 2013 at 13:22 , Blogger Ian Hunt said...

Gee Whiz - (I would normally use something stronger!!) – I don’t normally burst into print BUT I do feel that this outburst against RH is totally unfair and under the circumstances (the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the B720s) unwarranted!
Everyone is entitled to their opinions but to come up with such unsubstantiated statements……..??!!
As already said ‘so sad’ that ORAFS and this blog have been used as the medium to air these views!
In the aviation industry, perhaps more so than other industries, there will always be the prima-donnas and ass-holes with mega egos and I guess RH was no exception, but I think the majority of us who worked at RH look back at our time there with pride and great memories of camaraderie and fun – I certainly do!
I am sure that mistakes were made but to make such a statement ‘The purchase of the 720’s was a mess’, I find repugnant and some of the other statements very hard to believe!
RH was the National Carrier for ‘Rebel’ Rhodesia and as such, could not purchase, register and fly aircraft under ‘flags of convenience’ and thus the options to purchase jet aircraft were virtually non-existent!
The morning after the 720s arrived (15th April), the atmosphere at FRSB was electric and palpable – I was very proud to be working for RH!!
Cheers now
Ian Hunt (Gaborone, Botswana)

 
At 11 May 2013 at 09:56 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Bob Fletcher Writes:-

G'dday to you - for your blog should you choose. I could no work out how to post on the site directly, hence this email.

I rarely do this, but I was so incenced by the higginson post on your blog, I posted on the "They seved Africa with Wings" facebook page. Transcript for your info below.
Mitch Stirling Some 'interesting' comments are being exchanged on the Air Rhodesia operation in general, and the Boeing 720s in particular!
Bob Fletcher Mitch - what comments and where please
Mitch Stirling I'll e-mail the link, Bob. The story of the B720s (and others) is in an Eddy Norris blog called "Our Rhodesian Heritage"
Bob Fletcher Mitch, just read the blog and a comment by Chris Higginson really saddens me. After all this time, why??? Nothing to be served by such caustic comments.

As a point of interest, my comment (above) was "liked" by Nicky Pearce (Jock Elphinstones daughter) - as you know she worked for Affretair and was/is well liked and respected. Those three B720's gave me and others in Air Rhod an opportunity to join, learn and experience a new era in aviation, even though they were a bit dated, they still sparked all of us up. the aeroplanes were far more than just a commercial purchase. Through them I and others were given the opportunity to learn new skills. I ended up with A and C licences on 720's and 707's with avionics approvals then became an F/E. When i was inteviewed by CX I they were impressed with my knowledge and i achieved 100% in their F/E's interview exam -(not many did, some even failed it...incl Aus, and BA applicants..I think some Affretair F/E's also applied, some succeeded ). My point - Those 720's were the catylist to all this... All good to Pat Travers and all involved both in Air Rhod Ops and Engineering, i will be forever grateful!!

 
At 11 May 2013 at 10:32 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Gordon Hall (Air Rhodesia) Writes:-

My last thoughts on the operation of the above a/c - on the JNB/SAY sector of flight RH161/166

SAA Weights and Balances stipulated that the cargo allocation with a full load of pax was 1000kgs.
RH Traffic noted that on many of the daily flights ex JNB,the aircraft arrived with an amost empty rear holds.We knew that there was a cargo backlog ex JNB but why were our aircraft restricted to a 1000kg cargo allocation when there was an average 30% no show factor on the passengers figures.
(SAA Reservations controlled the JNB/SAY sector).

Our little airline was an utopia and I loved it !

 
At 11 May 2013 at 10:35 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Hew Travers (Air Rhodesia) Writes:-

Wow, what an incredibly bitter, and if I may say sour grapes, comment from Chris Higginson. A person that I thought that I knew, but having read his comments I can only say that it could have not come from the person that I thought that I knew.

Chris has made a number of assertions, none substantiated so merely his opinions, to which he is entitled. In my opinion, Chris is wrong on every single point that he raises.

My time with Air Rhodesia is remembered as the most satisfying period of my career, working with some of the best Aviators, both Civil and Air Force trained, and Engineers both Flight and Ground, and that includes my time flying with other companies and other Nationalities.

Flying the Boeing 720 was an incredible privilege, given that Air Rhodesia broke sanctions to get them, and probably had very few other choices, under the circumstances.

I find it so sad that ORAFs has been used as ‘clothes line’ to air someone’s bitter view.

 
At 11 May 2013 at 10:38 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Francis Fynn (RhAF and RhArmy) Writes:-

For s*** aircraft they sure did ok for about 15years! As for the Rhodie jet pilots this chap disses, how come they went on to fly for every major airline in the world?

I don't know a hell of a lot about DC8's but I was a cattle rancher! 38t Chiller(export) grade beef dressed out at +- 300kg a side which would put about 123 sides in a DC8 or over 200 passengers at 150 kg each--rugger players! The big Oshkosh lorries from SA used to load +- 25t at Ft Vic abattoir so i'm just asking like. We could probably have got 3t into a Dak pretty easily. Also how did they load a DC8 in Rhodesia? The Colcom guys in Ft Vic could hand slaughter, and dress 200 of my chiller grade steers in 1 and a half to 2 hrs, so I reckon they could have squeezed 123 sides into a DC8 in 30mins or so!! Also I'm not sure what PK had to do with Transport, Export or Finance for that matter, so I find the meeting saga a bit hard to swallow, as well as Mallochs comments!!

Just sounds like we have another retrospective antiRhod!!

 
At 11 May 2013 at 10:40 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Gordon Hall ()Air Rhodesia) Writes:-

I have just read Chris Higgjnson`s comments and must say that he is/was totally wrong.I had 23 years with the airline working in the Traffic dept - aircraft handling,loadsheet preparation, liaison with Capts and Operations, Outstations,passenger handing and they were the happiest days of my working career. From working in Livingstone, Mongu and Kasama I knew many F/O's and Captains personally as well- and over a period of time , never ever heard any of the criticism and backbiting Higginson refers to in his message.I played squash with many of the pilots during normal working hours when they were free and I was off duty. I organised a squash team in the 4th League that all squash clubs participated in which varied from week to week depending on who was free to play in the evening - team of 5 players
consisting of either 5 or 4 pilots and myself (Traffic). We actually won the 4th League one year ! After the game we always had a few beers and some times more !! The engineers were great guys as well.

On the line there were guys like Bill Jones , Gordon Arts,Tony Lea, Paddy Lambert, Bob Madgewick
and others who could be relied on to fix technical faults with great attitudes and knowledge. The
airline had a great team and spirit. You will always find a fault picker somewhere in the mix - some character flaw that keeps that person only happy when finding fault.

You must also remember that our executives could not travel freely with UN sanctions so limits were
placed on contacts and availability.

Ex airline staff in Cape Town have periodic get togethers.The last one in December had people from the UK, Australia and aound . All were unnaminous the their airline days were the happiest days of their life.

 
At 11 May 2013 at 10:44 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Dave Vermaak (Air Rhodesia) Writes:-

The article by Mitch has been read with great interest, as have the comments it has elicited from far and wide.

It is evident from some of the comments made that there may be a lack of appreciation on the part of some parties on how necessary it was for Air Rhodesia to acquire jet equipment.

The airline was competing on routes where the partner operator was operating the latest jet equipment and thus getting the traffic.To become competitive it was commercially essential for RH to get jets.
That this was achieved by all involved was a magnificent accomplishment to their everlasting credit!Particularly so, when you consider that the odds were stacked against the country and the airline by all and sundry!

Under separate cover I am sending you the article from the ABC Airways Magazine , January 1974.The article by Murray Bailey, 'Sanctions Slipping - Air Rhodesia's Boeings are worth a lot.' expresses the commercial aspects and associated factors.

You will note that his closing para. states inter alia ' - but it is a firm sign that the carrier is progressing in the face of surprising handicaps. If for nothing else, it should be admired for that alone.'
This for me epitomizes the resourceful endeavors of those who made it possible for RH to progress and, should be to the credit and a tribute to those involved for ever and a day!

As one who had 32 years with CAA / Air Rhodesia / Air Zimbabwe, in various capacities in BUQ,BLZ,JNB,CPT SAY and HRE, my time with CAA and RH were some of the happiest years in my 62 years in the aviation industry!Call-ups included.

Comment by ORAFs
The article mentioned in Dave comments will be circulated after Part 2 of this story has been distributed

 
At 11 May 2013 at 10:46 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Mike Daly (Air Rhodesia) Writes:-
A wonderful story for those of us who were too young and naive, possibly, at that time, to envisage the enormity of what was going on.

I was based in the engine/propeller shop at Air Rhodesia, both as an apprentice and as a journeyman. There were always rumblings going on, as to the possible arrival of some Boeings. As far as I can remember, the old car park at the back of the engine shop, was suddenly cordoned off, and construction work began. This must have been in about 1972. Once finished, and the roof on, the old cleaning bay with its “Trich” tanks and so on, was moved out to the back of the new building. Great for us in the shop, as the terrible smells went with them. This also included the disking room, where we used to disc the prop blades on overhaul.

Ted Methven, (RIP), was the Foreman of the engine and propeller shop. He was missing for months at a time, and the rumour was that he was looking for Boeings. Jock Bell ran the shop in his absence. If my memory serves me correctly, Ted passed away before the Boeings finally arrived.

In the new section, many new machines were installed. Where they came from I do not know. One machine was designed to tip a Boeing engine vertically up on its nose, then lower it into a pit in the floor, so that the guys could work on it. I never saw this section completed as I left Air Rhodesia in August 1973.

At one stage, a consignment of two wooden crates arrived one afternoon, and we were told that they contained two or four completely overhauled Dowty-Rotol props for the Viscounts, and that they even had their log books with them! They had been sourced in the States. We were duly charged with opening them for our inspector, Alan Gosnold, to have a quick look at them. When the crates were opened, the said props had actually been scrapped. The blades were well below minimum thickness, they were badly corroded, and were not fit for service! When it came to inspecting the logs books, it was another story. They were there alright – all packed up in waterproof bags. On opening them, it was found that these were indeed the log books for these props., but, only the serial numbers had been entered! They were brand new books, with no history written in them at all!!! I don’t think those props ever got out of the crate!!

Another colleague of mine, Derek Smith of South African Eagle Insurance, was contacted just after the Boeings had arrived, and given a cryptic message. The message, as far as I can remember, was that “there were three birds on the ground a Salisbury Airport, and would he please insure them”. This was the day after then three Boeings arrived.

Just to jot down a few names of the staff at that time – Eddie Dacre & Norman Miller, (Engine build), Wally Smith, (Reduction gearboxes) (RP 1975), Ginger Ramsell (Inspector), Lou Boerrigter, (Props & P&W 1830 P/Plant), Mike Smith, Bert Berthould, (Engine accessories), Jimmy McGinn , (Constant Speed units), Len Townend, (Chargehand – Props), Reg Rushton, (general)

 
At 12 May 2013 at 11:50 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

If 720's were going at 5 for $300 000 and we got 3 for $3,5 million,what happened to the other $3,320 000? Or is this a can of worms that should stay unopened?

Geoff Dartnall
(RhAF)

 
At 12 May 2013 at 16:13 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Francis Fynn (RhAF and RhArmy) Writes:-

There is one point which we all missed including Chris, when he was in the US training the main reason aircraft were going cheap(probably DC8's as well)Was the fact that the mighty 747s were becoming available and even SAA flogged their 707's off cheap to buy 747's. Also until a few years ago a 720 was being used as a refuelling tanker for the SAAF Cheaters and Mirages, not bad for rubbish!!

 
At 19 August 2014 at 09:23 , Blogger Hans said...

Some of the chaps were commenting about the high price paid for the "sanctioned" equipment. The jets couldn't and didn't come straight from Eastern Airlines (USA), but rather after a circuitous route after purchase by Calair in West Germany, a short lived charter carrier. For example: D-ACIP s/n 18162/240 became VP-YNL . . . D-ACIQ s/n 18242/248 became VP-YNM . . . etc.

 
At 7 February 2015 at 13:14 , Blogger Roger Howard said...

Ddid anyone on this site know or have dealings with Jock Malloch? I am a British author and would be very pleased to hear from you.

 

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