Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Joey’s Last Flight

Joey’s Last Flight

“An aircraft that has served the Channel Islands for nearly 40 years completed its final flight on Sunday. G-Joey, which has a fan club, flew from Southampton to Alderney and then to Guernsey, arriving 10 minutes late at 19:40 BST after celebrations en route. The Trislanders, operated by airline Aurigny, are due to be phased out next year, and replaced by Dornier 228s.” (BBC News)

The average age of the Trislander was apparently 37 years and parts and maintenance costs were getting higher each year.

For the technically minded, Wiki says this:

“The Britten-Norman Trislander (more formally designated the BN-2A Mk III Trislander) is an 18-seat three-engined piston-powered civilian utility aircraft produced in the 1970s and early 1980s by Britten-Norman of Britain. These STOL capable aircraft were produced on the Isle of Wight. They were also produced in Romania, and delivered via Belgium to Britain for their certification.”

I remember flying to both Guernsey and Alderney on these little yellow planes. If the sky was clear, it was a great experience, and you could see the sea and islands as you flew along.

I didn’t like it nearly so much if the cloud cover was low, however. Having just whiteness outside all the windows gave the cabin a very closed in and claustrophobic feel. Not only could you not see where you were going, you also felt as if you were imprisoned in a white void, and apart from checking the watch, had no feel of distance, just the drone of the engine.

Flights were regular and frequent, so even if it was foggy, they soon caught up, or they would put on a larger plane for the backlog. The planes seemed very reliable; incidents were few and far between, but I do recall one place having to do an emergency landing on the Five Mile road!

There was even a series of books about the adventures of Joey which we bought for our children. It was rather like Steam trains – these little planes had a charm all of their own. Like Thomas the Tank, Joey the Trislander had a personality!

The original series of six books saw Joey flying through thunderstorms to save Snorter the bull, tackling oil slicks, solving crimes and dealing with a mischievous stunt plane. The last book in that series was written by Peter Seabourne in 1982

There’s a lovely blog posting about Joey on

“On fair weather days, flights on Joey were wonderful as you got a great aerial view of the islands. But on days where even birds found flight challenging, Aurigny, apparently, did not. I would arrive at the airport and see all other flights canceled except there's. Like lambs to the slaughter, we would board Joey and be bumped, rattled and rained on; (rain drops through a center joint above). With senses reeling, shaken and disheveled, we somehow always got there...”

“During particularly challenging flights, Joey seemed determined to fly sideways, land in fields, or overshoot the runway: You can't see the pilots face as you sit two-abreast behind him; what you see is him appear to wrestle a the horns. Then there's the troubling sound of the engines; either whining desperately as Joey fights through turbulence, or sudden heart-stopping splutters as Joey drops a few hundred feet.”

“Since the advent of Joey, a series of children's fiction books have been written about this little airplane and his courageous adventures. In truth, I could write a few factual, equally adventurous stories about the courage of the passengers!”

Farewell, Joey. We shall miss you.

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