Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Second Five

The discussion of  the elegant and beautiful of the other evening continued well into the next day and is still being chewed over. I had to agree that naming just five aircraft that fitted the description (in this Tavern Keeper's humble view) was a hard task and others have put their oars in the waters and hoisted sails to rush their choices to the score board. Frankly It has been more fun than the Olympics. More people watch the skies than the track.
Avalon 2105 See if you can spot the Tavern Keeper 
So it means I have to show and tell the next five to make it a 'Top Ten'. These are my particular choices and may well say something about my unique mind.

Coming in at #6, one of the most elegant of modern times. 

The Bone.  

Even the most jaundiced eye can see that this is a Lady. A very fast lady at that, but with superb manners. The Lancer B1b. 

Built as a supersonic bomber for delivering a nuclear boom, fast, it has never been deployed in that role. But it has been successfully adapted to a fast, low-level conventional role.

Originally it was intended to replace the very ungainly and definitely ugly sister the B52, but you know how things go with military aircraft. The situation changes; strategic imperatives change; the darn things crash; a new interfering directive comes down from on high. And so adaptations to role occur. But the sheer beauty remains.

And talking of Ugly. No-one ever pretended that (this interlude before #7) my most beloved steed was pretty. Lipstick would not help. But as anyone who is anyone has said, the only replacement for a Bucc is another Bucc.
The moment you take the 'weight' off the undercarriage, it goes up.

But I digress. 

#7 The Victor. There will never, ever be a more Unique design.  All who have seen a Vic fly by, take off, land, or even just sit there, look with an open mouth. The Handley Page Victor is (was) a British jet-powered strategic bomber, developed and produced by the Handley Page Aircraft Company, which served during the Cold War. 
Fearsomely Beautiful
It was the third and final of the V-bombers operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF), the other two V-bombers being the Avro Vulcan and the Vickers Valiant. The Victor had been developed to perform as part of the United Kingdom’s airborne nuclear deterrent. In 1968, the type was retired from the nuclear mission as the nuclear deterrence mission was given to the Royal Navy's submarine-launched Polaris missiles.

A number of Victors had received modifications to undertake the strategic reconnaissance role, employing a combination of radar, cameras, and other sensors.  Sniffer too.

During the Falklands War, Victor tankers were notably used in the airborne logistics operation to repeatedly refuel Vulcan bombers on their way to and from the Black Buck raids.
The huge distinctive flying Tail. 
The Victor was the last of the V-bombers to be retired, the final aircraft being removed from service on 15 October 1993. In its refuelling role, the type had been replaced by the Vickers VC10 and the Lockheed Tristar.

# 8 Which brings us conveniently to just that VC10. 

But first...

Yes, the VC10. Originally a civilian plane, I think the VC10 is a magnificent design that deserves some attention and accolade. 

As with so many fine aircraft from British stables, she was designed in that mid-20C phase, and its rear powerplants / high tail combination has been copied and adapted to many medium haul passenger planes. It is a very quiet and stable configuration. 

During it's service with BOAC the VC10 BOAC advertising gained a lot of passenger appeal and BOAC responded to this by using these appealing features such as it's quietness and smooth ride in their campaigns. 

At some point someone coined the phrase 'a little VC10derness' and it appeared in some of BOAC's commercials from that point on to describe the 'special treatment' you got when flying on a VC10.

The RAF took it and used it for passenger and troop transport (remember flying backwards?) and later as a tanker. But regardless of role it is a simply beautiful shape. The High tail sets it up for admiring looks and many a camera. It is a powerful machine too. Four engines. Its copies in the medium-haul world get by with two.

#9. All aircraft start as a dream. Sometimes it is an 'official' requirement that relies upon some dreamer to it turn to reality. My next is not unique anymore since a hundred clones and copies swiftly followed its inception, the Learjet remains an elegant design and solution to the needs and the desires of business, and the Dream of Bill Lear.  

As the founder of Motorola, Bill Lear had amassed a fortune in the consumer electronics industry in the first half of his life. With the dawn of the jet age, what he longed to do was create a personal jet

When the Lear Jet 23, born from a Swiss military trainer jet, first flew on October 7, 1963, 
nothing on the civilian market could come close to its performance. 

The Lear 24 and 25 models that followed offered even better performance and more room inside, though all were tiny. With Clay Lacy and Danny Kaye showing off those early Lear Jets to Hollywood’s elite — and famously, members of the Rat Pack, including Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin — the popularity of the diminutive private jets exploded.
Fifty years ago, on Aug. 12, 1966, the Lear Jet 25 made its maiden flight in Wichita, Kansas. It was the last model to fly before Bill Lear, the inventor of ADF, the 8-track cassette and 150 other things, sold the company in the midst of a crushing recession to the Gates Rubber Co. Many Learjet models would follow through the years, including the iconic Lear 35 and 55, as the Learjet brand became a household name in the 1970s and 1980s 

Much of the credit for the success of Lear Jet belongs directly to the gentlemen in this iconic photo, playfully trying out the mockup for the never-built Lear Liner Model 40 in 1965. Bill Lear, of course, is in the middle. On the left is Clay Lacy, the legendary Southern California pilot and businessman; on the right is Hollywood actor Danny Kaye, a pilot and early Lear Jet advocate who threw his star power behind the brand and even served as the company’s vice president of marketing.

Prior to Bill's dream there were no luxury civilian personal jet aircraft. He found a niche that few knew was there and waiting. In the Tavern Keeper's HV, it is a beautiful craft and today, made by Bombardier, customers have a hand in every stage of the fit-out, from instruments to luxury seating and accoutrements.

#10. So we arrive at an unusual choice and to me quite personal. This is a workhorse, so old it should be out to pasture but still soldiers on. The sun has threatened to go down on it but there it is every morning 

The Grumman Goose.

Well, it had to be a sea-plane, didn't it?

I can say little about it that many others have not said before.  If it only had bay windows it might have made it into the top five.

The Goose will do your bidding with grace and even some charm. But even staid older ladies need some careful handling. 

The Goose laid golden eggs for many, many remote and not so remote communities. Other planes came along. The goose was almost 'cooked'. But there has been a resurgence.

But at least one customer here will appreciate that it is not only with bicycles that pretty girls like to pose.

I shall serve a round to all who sit and admire my choices. 

And what would you choose?

Oh, by the way, did I mention 'crash'? The Lancer.

No-one was injured.

Pax. Over and out.


  1. The Gnat would have to be in my top 10, as would the Camel and Swordfish. And a personal quirky vote for the Chipmunk.

    1. A man of taste and adventure :) I think I gave an honourable and personal mention before to the fabulous Gnat. I have poled that little bit of magic around the skies of Wales many a time.

  2. Lear jet and Grumman hard to go past.

    1. My top ten list must have at least 25 in it.

  3. I have a wonderful memory of a deep thrumming aircraft sound whilst standing next to a five story building. I looked up and waited to see what turned out to be three Hercules flying in formation together.

    It was an awesome sight :-)

    1. The Herc is a 'comly lass': not a 'belle of the ball' sort but a fine companion who will not go in for fripperies. It will always have a place in the aircraft pantheon for its reliable long service. A fitting replacement for the workhorse DC3.

  4. Glad to see Lear in there. The 35 was an enjoyable aircraft to fly. Very maneuverable, like a little sports car in the sky.

    1. A great little machine. Yes, it is very forgiving if you do a 'fighter' approach'; climbs well too. I would not sniff at an offer to pole one along for a few hours, especially down low. I understand you have some similar types close by.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..