Aviation Historian 17
B.Turpin - Out on a Lympne (1)
Built as a C-47B and operated by the RAF as KN492 during 1945-49, Dakota G-AMWW was delivered to Skyways in early 1955 and was one of the first to operate on the company’s coach-air services from Lympne, where it is seen here before the formation of Skyways Coach-Air as a separate venture in 1958.
With the airfield’s trademark abundant planting and white picket fence in the foreground, Skyways aircraft ancient and modern share the ramp at Lympne. Skyways Coach-Air went on to operate a total of eight 748s, an example of which is seen here behind the Dakota, during 1962-71; the author will relate his experiences of the 748 in the next part of the series.
A rare colour photograph of a Skyways Dakota over Otterpool Lane on final approach into Lympne. Until the late 1960s Lympne was a grass-only airfield, which suited the rugged Dakotas, but less so the more refined 748. As a result, a hard runway was built at Lympne in 1967 and opened in 1968.
Another magnificent view of Skyways’ stalwart Dakota G-AMWW, this time at Beauvais in June 1959.’’Whiskey Whiskey” was incorporated into the Skyways Coach-Air fleet when the latter subsidiary was formed on October 9, 1958, although it continued to fly in its “Skyways of London” colours for some time afterwards.
By the spring of 1966 G-AMWW had been painted in the definitive Skyways Coach-Air colour scheme, which used the same signature colours of pale blue, burgundy and white, but with a revised legend above the cabin windows. The steadfast ’MWW is seen here at Biggin Hill during a charter operation to provide flights between Beauvais and Biggin Hill for the Air Fair in May 1966.
The starboard mainwheel hauls itself into the engine nacelle, its port-side companion already nestled away, as G-AMWW clatters away from Lympne in May 1959. By the time the author joined the Skyways company in late 1965 it was operating four Dakotas - G-AGYZ, G-AMSM, G-AMWW and G-AMWX (written off that December) - on coach-air services.
Passengers aboard a Skyways Coach-Air Dakota in 1958. Although perhaps not the height of luxury, the accommodation in the cabin was comfortable enough, the 1 hr hop between Lympne and Beauvais being the shortest single stage of the journey. Standard crew on a coach-air service comprised two pilots and a stewardess.
A composite of several photographs of the cockpit of Air Atlantique’s Dakota G-AMRA, which, as the author explains, “remains pretty much as the Skyways cockpits were - fairly tatty with a lot of old instrumentation; the artificial horizons here are new, unlike ours, which were the same as those fitted to Chipmunks - or indeed Lancasters!"