Short S.25 Sandringham 4 VP-LVE Southern Cross arrived at Foynes, Ireland, on July 8, 1976, for a prolonged stay in the UK.
Owned by Antilles Air Boats and based in the Virgin Islands, the boat was flown in by Capt Charles Blair, accompanied by his wife, Maureen O’Hara. The Sandringham arrived over Studland Bay, Dorset, on July 23, 1976, but owing to difficult seas it was unable to land there and put down at nearby Poole Harbour for the night.
The following day it positioned at Studland, where it commenced a programme of passenger flights. Trips were offered to the public at ?15 per head, and flights overflew the old seaplane bases at Calshot and Cowes. One visitor to the flight deck was former flying boat captain Bill Craig, who last flew boats 30 years ago (photo). The pleasure flights were arranged by M. M. Aviation in support of the Air Training Corps and aircraft preservation interests.
During the night of July 26, 1976 vandals removed an inspection panel from the starboard tip float. Choppy seas filled the float, causing the boat to list badly to starboard (photo), and it had to be towed to the calmer, shallower waters of Poole where the float was pumped dry and flying resumed. Unfortunately all of Friday’s flights had to be cancelled.