DH 95 Flamingo

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Flamingo flying over Jersey's south coast

The De Havilland 95 Flamingo is inextricably linked with the island's pre-war airline, Jersey Airways.

Aviation boom

Who can tell how the Flamingo and Jersey Airways might have progressed had the Second World War not intervened, because the new all-metal airliner which was ideal for short routes, came on the scene just as aviation began to boom in Jersey in the two years after the opening of its airport in 1937.

Jersey Airways, which had commenced operations on the beach at West Park with DH 84 Express biplanes, and expanded their fleet with larger DH 86 Dragons and the DH 89 Rapide, also biplanes, was growing rapidly by 1939 and looking for larger aircraft.

On to the scene came the British de Havilland DH 95 Flamingo was a high-wing, twin-engined airliner, which was the first all-metal aircraft built by de Havilland. The metal framework was mostly metal-covered with fabric covered control surfaces. Two pilots were seated side-by-side with a radio operator behind them in the cockpit, with the cabin accommodating 12-17 passengers. It featured a retractable undercarriage, slotted flaps and variable pitch propellers, and was considered a highly promising sales prospect for the company, capable of competing with rival American aircraft including the Douglas DC-3.

The prototype fitted with 12 passenger seats was delivered to Jersey Airways in May 1939 for two months evaluation and became the first revenue-earning Flamingo. The first services carried mail only but in July a regular weekend passenger service was operated as G-AFUE joined the Jersey Airways fleet 'on approval' operating scheduled services to Heston. Press trips were organised and publicity photographs were taken of the Flamingo in flight over the Jersey coastline. Soon Jersey Airways had placed an order for three 17-seat aircraft, but then war broke out, the first production model was impressed into military service with 24 Squardon and the other two on order were never built.

Initially it was intended to build 40 military DH 95 Hertfordshires, but after the first version flew, De Havilland production was switched to other aircraft of higher priority. Early in 1940 BOAC ordered eight aircraft, originally intended as ten-seaters. The first BOAC aircraft was delivered on 5 September 1940. The second BOAC aircraft was impressed by the Air Ministry and alloacted for Admiralty use. To replace the impressed aircraft BOAC were later allotted the aircraft ordered by the Egyptian Government and all the BOAC Flamingos were moved to Cairo to operate in the Middle East.

The planes were not popular and following three accidents, one fatal, and a lack of spares the airline decided to withdrawn the type and in 1943 the five airworthy aircraft were shipped back to the United Kingdom. They did not return to service and were scrapped in the early 1950s.

Most of the RAF aircraft were withdrawn from use during the war and were slowly scrapped to provide spares for the remaining aircraft. Although one aircraft flew for a brief time with British Air Transport in the late 1940s, Jersey Airways reverted to an all-biplane fleet when they resumed operations after the war for a brief period, before new Government rules forced them out of business.

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