Kenya - Nairobi 1956 etc., By Maurice Flanagan

When I joined in January 1953, with memories of the war still lingering, BOAC was often said by some resentful persons to stand for 'Bastards
Overseas Avoiding Conscription.'

At Eastleigh Airport in the second half of the fifties before Embakasi was opened in 1957 (I think), the runway surface consisted of compacted murram, the red East African soil. It became sloppy when wet.

Low-winged Constellations would have suffered flap damage on landing if the surface was too sloppy, and we did not keep spare flaps on the
station. Our solution was to drive flat out down the runway, slap the brakes on, and if the car rotated, advise the captain to divert.

The runway lights at Eastleigh were goosenecks, petrol cans with a burning rag in the spout. Not uncommon at that time.

I was on flight watch during one of the Britannia proving flights south of Nairobi in 1957. All four engines failed at the same time, but restarted when the aircraft was down to about 12000 feet. The investigation revealed that carburettor icing occurred at the aircraft's
height of about 20,000 feet with a temperature around 0 degrees C. Its turbo-prop engines failed so often in flight that we called the
Britannia our 'feathered friend.'

Our aircraft at that time had five, and up to seven, crew on certain flights, on the flight deck - captain, first officer, navigator, flight engineer, radio officer with, in one Argonaut configuration, only 46 seats. Now in the Emirates two-class configuration on the A380 we will have 644 seats and two on the flight deck.(When he left BOAC, Maurice played a leading role in the creation and development of Emirates. He is now Executive Vice President, Emirates Airline and Group - ed.)

Some of our BOAC aircraft in the fifties had standards of comfort well up to the best of today's. One version of the Britannia had only 30 spacious seats, individually spaced and reclining absolutely flat. Our Stratocruiser had premium seats with full-sized bunk beds which pulled out above the seats. There was a genuine bar downstairs with the full range of drinks behind the steward at the counter, a rail to rest your foot on, and bench seating. I don't think we'll ever quite see that again. I can vouch for it because I was there. I had the huge pleasure of being a Stratocruiser passenger when being shipped out to train as an RAF navigator in Canada in 1951.

Odd things that you never forget - for a numeric code I often use 2358 (gallons, full tanks on the Argonaut) and 2234 (full mains tanks and 1 and 4 auxiliaries).

Pictures below:

BOAC Monarch Class on Stratocruiser

BOAC Boeing 377 Stratocruiser G-ALSA "Cathay"

Image: BOAC Boeing 377 Stratocruiser - Monarch Class

Image: Stratocruiser on ground

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