London Gatwick in the 1960s


London Gatwick did not feature too heavily in my aircraft spotting agenda in the early 1960s.  For a start at the time it was a bit of an aviation backwater (the sort of place I'd hunt down these days!) and for seconds the only way I could readily get there was by my dad taking me by car.  However the situation changed with the introduction of the 727 Greenline route linking my home town with the airport.  Thus school holiday visits for my schoolfriends and myself became possible, albeit at greater expense than a normal bus.

The draw of Gatwick was British United, with me "copping" their new BAC1-11s and VC10s as they were introduced and obscure (to me) British and foreign charter airlines.   Another draw was the proximity in which one could in those days view the aircraft.   There were public viewing walkways along the top of the piers.  And to contrast with today's high security - one day I dropped one of the lens caps of my dad's binoculars, it rolled off the walkway and fell onto the apron below.  We shouted at a worker on the apron to draw his attention and to try to get it returned to us.  We were merely invited to go down one of the emergency staircases (which were not as we found locked) onto the apron to retrieve it for ourselves.

Gatwick has been developed and expanded so much in the past 40 years that it is virtually unrecognisable - witness the picture of the terminal building, now part of the South terminal, below.   The small original building has been completely swamped in all three directions and the pier arrangements totally changed.   Gone too are the public walkways along the piers to be replaced by a small roof terrace with a confined view located on the north west corner of the South Terminal.

The below pictures are believed to have been taken between 1964 and 1965.


BUA Viscount (33291 bytes) A British United 800 series Viscount at what, if I recall correctly, was the domestic pier.  The royal blue cheatline and bright red British United markings would soon be replaced by a very much 1960s image turquoise and tan livery with BUA markings.

I am very fond of British United Airlines - my first flight was with British United Air Ferries.


IAF Boeing 377 Stratocruiser (31971 bytes) Aviation backwater #1 ...... boy am I now glad I took this picture at a time when I was otherwise more interested in brand new jet aircraft.  Gatwick at the time was also used for staging military transports. This is a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser 4X-FPX of the Israeli Air Force -  "Zipori".   According to my Piston Engine Aircraft Production list this aircraft did not carry this registration before February 1964 and it was withdrawn on the 1st September 1965, so narrowing down the date of this picture.


RCAF Lockheed C130 Hercules (38346 bytes) Aviation backwater #2 ...... a Lockheed Hercules of the Royal Canadian Airforce. What I find remarkable is that these pictures have lain in a photo album for 37 years and I could remember from my boyhood (I was 10 or 11 when they were taken) that they were Israeli and Canadian aircraft.  The high resolution scans have merely confirmed my memory, though in the case of the Stratocruiser I was able to pull out its registration to make a positive identification and to help me with the dates.


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