Featured image: TSLR/CC-BY-SA-3.0

6/29/1962: First Flight of the Iconic Vickers VC10

DALLAS – Today, in 1962, the iconic Vickers VC10 took off on its maiden flight from Brooklands Airfield, Surrey at 17:25 GMT.

The prototype – G-ARTA – took 19 minutes to fly to nearby Wisley, where extensive further testing and cabin fitting were carried out.

At the time, Vickers engineers were concerned that the 1152m runway at Brooklands may be too short for a safe take-off run. Adjustments were made, including a temporary 183-meter extension at the north end of the runway.

A large yellow line was also painted across the tarmac to warn the pilot of the remaining runway length available should a rejected take-off be required.

Vickers VC10 production at Weybridge. Photo: BAE Systems

Military Beginnings

The VC10 was developed in the early 1950s after manufacturer Vickers was tasked with creating a military transporter for the Royal Air Force (RAF), the V1000. British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) were interested in a passenger variant, dubbed the V7. Sadly the UK government pulled the plug which also meant the end of the V7.  

BOAC went on to order the Boeing 707. However, the American jet was not suitable for many of its routes to Africa and Asia.

Vickers VC10 British United take off at Weybridge. Photo: BAE Systems

A Clean-sheet Design

Vickers stepped in with their state-of-the-art VC10. The airliner was a clean-sheet design but used many of the same features put forward for the V1000 and V7.

G-ARTA went on to serve with BOAC, British United Airways (BUA), British Caledonian (BCAL) and Middle East Airlines (MEA).

On January 28, 1972, the aircraft was involved in a hard landing at Gatwick and was subsequently broken up.

The featured image the prototype Vickers VC10, G-ARTA at the SBAC show, Farnborough September 8, 1962. Its first flight was not long before, on June 29, 1962.

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