I really enjoy delving into aviation history because the stories are so very interesting. One aircraft I really like is the British manufactured Vickers VC10, which was in competition with the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 during the 1960s.

BOAC was the prime user of this aircraft on routes to Africa, the Far East, transpacific and transatlantic during the late 1960s and through the 1970s. There are two videos here from the British Pathé archives on YouTube and while short they are well worth checking out.

Automatic Landings

Today it is common knowledge that aircraft can land themselves by autopilot. When pilots are unable to see due to low visibility or fog conditions, autopilot will take care of the landing which saves flights from having to divert to other airports. Back in the 1960s this was a revolutionary concept, so much so that it was news worthy. This one minute video shows an automatic landing in a Vickers VC10.

I love the commentary referring to the aircraft as “the giant BOAC VC10” and “huge” when today it would be thought of as fairly small. The pilots have their hands crossed and it’s interesting to see all the controls move on their own. Apparently they did not use it often in service though, as it was more suited to short haul aircraft like the Hawker Siddeley Trident.

A Vickers VC10 Shakedown Flight

The second video is from 1964 when the VC10 was brand new and had not entered service. As the voice over says, “see what flying in a VC10 is like!”. It’s interesting to see at this point the old BOAC livery, which was changed completely before the plane entered service.

Look out for the cabin shots when they are serving the meal. The aisle is unbelievably wide, wider than any I have ever seen. I also love how the food is plated and served at your seat. Royal Jordanian still do this today in Crown Class and it feels so very luxurious.

Overall Thoughts

British Pathé films are a window into a past that a lot of us will never experience. I love the plummy British voice over, the superlatives used, plus the way they try to give you a good overview of what they’re reporting on.

What I particularly enjoyed about the second video is the sound of the aircraft. It’s much, much louder than planes today, so we’ve come a long way when it comes to sound suppression it seems. Let’s face it, I really like the Vickers VC10 and wish I’d flown on it.

Did you ever get the chance to fly on a VC10? What was that like? What did you think of the videos? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image via British Airways.