This article was first published in the summer of 2019 as part of a 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines, Imperial Airways, BOAC and BEA. You can browse the full series of 100 stories in numerical order, by theme or by decade.
The British designed and manufactured Vickers VC10 and Super VC10 aircraft were operated by BOAC in the 1960s and 1970s.
It had a unique design with a distinctive high tail and large wing structure. Its four engines were at the back of the aircraft, meaning that all passengers were seated in front of the engines, making for a much quieter flight.
It was seen as particularly suitable for services to “hot and high” airports in Africa and airports with relatively poor runway conditions.
The aircraft first entered into service on 29 April 1964, operating from Heathrow to Lagos. The VC10 was used by BOAC on all parts of its route network initially to Africa, and then the Middle East, Asia, Australia and, with the Super VC10, the US. Her Majesty The Queen flew on the aircraft on a royal visit to Canada in 1967.
Relatively few aircraft were manufactured and ordered by other airlines, and it had a short life, as the Boeing 707, and subsequently the Boeing 747 were better suited to long range flights. By the late 1970s BA began to retire the aircraft. However, it was still a very popular aircraft with passengers and remains one of the most memorable aircraft operated by BOAC.
In one memorable incident, one aircraft was subject to a hijack in Dawson’s Field.