Ray Dowding has provided this nostalgic look back at Birmingham Airport (then named Elmdon) in 1971 when diversions from airports in London due to fog provided a mouthwatering mix of airliners to the Midlands airport.
In January 1971 thick fog closed all the airports in the South East resulting in perhaps the largest number of diverted aircraft ever to land at Elmdon Airport. At the time, the apron at the new terminal could only accommodate a maximum of six aircraft with additional ones being parked around the old 1930s terminal. Diverted aircraft were unloaded and towed to and parked on the short cross runway normally used by Aer Lingus Dakotas, British European Airways Pioneers, the occasional Viscount and Bristol Super Freighters.
My fondest moment was watching the arrival of a KLM Constellation, bringing football players for a game at Villa Park, struggling to maintain a steady approach over Elmdon works.
Every square metre of apron, taxiway and this small runway were used to store aircraft. It appeared the whole BEA Vanguard fleet was present. Aircraft ranged from the Dakota to the Viscount, the Vanguard to the Trident, the VC10 to the Super VC10 and the B737 to the B727. Also noted was a lone Eagle Airways BAC 1-11. Has anyone got a complete aircraft listing they could send in via email?
The liveries are also interesting in that there are three versions of BEA scheme, two of Britannia Airways, an old Iberia and the final livery for BOAC. Is this the only time that a Ghana Airways aircraft has landed at Elmdon?
The photographs aren’t up to today’s standards but well worth a look. They were taken on Agfa and Kodachrome. See how many aircraft you can identify on the cross runway bathed in early morning fog.
Text and Images © Ray Dowding
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