Aviation Historian 25
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N.Stroud - Channell-hopping with BEA /The John Stroud Archive/
With a stiff breeze blowing over the landing field at La Grand Blaye on Alderney, Rapide G-AGSH is prepared for its return hop back to Guernsey, and then on to Jersey, during John Stroud’s visit to the Channel Islands at the end of April 1947. Although the smallest of the three islands by some margin, Alderney can boast the first licensed airport in the Channel Islands, having opened in October 1935.
Rapide G-AGSH awaits another inter-island flight at Jersey. This aircraft made its first flight in April 1945 and joined Channel Islands Airways three months later, before being absorbed into the BEA fleet in early 1947. The initial BEA colour scheme was somewhat austere, the Rapides being silver overall with the airline’s “Speedkey” logo within a red circle on the fin and “British European Airways” running discreetly beneath the cockpit and forward cabin windows.
Passengers disembark from G-AGSH and make their way to the single-storey building at Alderney Airport - "terminal" may be too grand a word! The airport has been gradually upgraded since John’s visit in 1947 and, although not as busy today as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, Alderney still services more than 9,700 aircraft movements each year.
Three BEA Rapides, all former Channel Islands Airways aircraft, sit together on the hardstanding at Jersey, its distinctive diagonal paving completed by the German forces after their invasion of the Channel Islands in June 1940.
Three of BEA’s Rapides beside the terminal at Guernsey on April 30, 1947. The nearest, G-AGSH (c/n 6884) and the furthest, G-AGPH (c/n 6889), were both operated by Channel Islands Airways before the latter became part of BEA in the nationalisation process in 1946; G-AHXZ (c/n 6825) had joined BEA from the Ministry of Supply in September 1946.
Five of BEA’s Islander-class Rapides on the hardstanding at Jersey. In November 1947 the last Croydon - Guernsey direct service was made, all London services to the Channel Islands originating from Northolt from 1948, using Dakotas. The Rapides continued to be used, however, on services to the islands from Southampton.
Islanders make the most of the view from Rapide G-AGSH as it trundles between Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney.
An unexpected visitor to Guernsey during John’s island-hopping excursion was Miles Gemini 1A G-AISO (c/n 6326), which had been acquired brand-new by Woodley-based Air Contractors Ltd four months previously. By the end of the year, the Gemini had been purchased by Airwork at Blackbushe. It later went to Australia, where it crashed as VH-BDC in June 1962.