Aviation pictures - Back in business, the 1940s

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Back in business after the Occupation ...
... and the short grass landing strips used before the war have now given way to a longer runway aligned due east and west

Late beach landing

Even though the West Park end of St Aubin's Bay ceased to be used for aircraft operations on a daily basis following the opening of the new Airport in 1937, that was not the end of beach landings. In February 1947, ten years later, and nearly two years after normal flying operations resumed after the Liberation, this Channel Islands Airways DH89 Rapide landed on the beach at West Park.

Why it landed there is not clear but probably there was a problem at the airport because of what was described at the time as heavy snow and frost, particularly as the airport did not have a hard runway at this time. The Rapide was carrying passengers, and it is being refuelled ready for its return flight. A Commer van appears to be collecting or delivering some light cargo or luggage.

The police are in attendance, but on such a cold day there do not appear to be any curious onlookers to keep at bay, although there are some people on the promenade watching what was one time commonplace. In the first picture the chocks have been pulled away, the aircraft is running up its engines to go, and the unusual event was clearly something to photograph and report.

At the time of these pictures, February 1947, all airline services in the UK became part of BEA, having been under its control since it was established in August 1946. The Channel Islands’ governments resisted this on the basis that the UK government did not have jurisdiction over the islands, and Channel Islands Airways was registered in Jersey.

Channel Islands Airways was flying its routes at this time under contract to BEA, but it was not a situation that would be allowed to last. It was made clear that Channel Islands Airways’ flights would not be given permission to land in England, so on 1 April 1947 the staff, the eight aircraft and the routes all became part of BEA. It was not all bad news, as members of staff were given better pay and conditions, and some enjoyed promotion within the new organisation.

The particular aircraft in the pictures, G-AGSK, left the Channel Islands and flew for BEA in the Scottish islands. It undertook air ambulance operations in the Outer Hebrides, shortly before it was sold to Gibraltar Airways. It was obviously an aircraft that did its fair share of beach landings and take-offs in its life.

A superb quality picture of the Bristol Wayfarer above St Helier Harbour on 9 May 1946. This was the largest aircraft flown by Channel Island Airways. It was flown by Bristol test pilot Bill Pegg and Channel Island Airways chief pilot, Captain Keene-Miller
This photograph of a British European Airways C-47/Dakota/Pionair must have been taken shortly after the aircraft was acquired by British European Airways from the RAF in 1947. G-AJIB operated to Jersey for many years, ultimately in Channel Airways livery, but although this photograph appears on a postcard sent in 1950, the plane has yet to acquire BEA livery
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