Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

Mystery Airplane

During World War II, the British relied on the United States for transports. Realizing they could be left behind after the war was over, the Barbazon Committee looked at setting requirements for post-war airliners. Some designs, like the huge Bristol Brabazon with eight Centaurus radials and the ten engine Saunders-Roe Princess flying boat, were colossal failures. Only two became serious trend setters. The graceful de Havilland Comet had to overcome some mysterious early crashes before proving its worth. Vicker's Dart engine medium range Viscount became a real success.

Produced from 1948 to 1964, the Viscount was the first production turboprop airliner and served with almost 50 airlines. The world's first scheduled turboprop service began with BEA on 29 July 1950 between London and Paris. In all, 444 were built, which included orders by Capital, United, and Continental Airlines in the United States. American models were certificated under Approved Type Certificate #814 of 13 June 1955.

I photographed this month's mystery plane in Ottawa in August 1992. Viscount 757, CF-THI, was built by Vickers at Weybridge, Surry, England in 1957 and delivered to Trans Canada Airlines on 26 May 1957. It flew over 27,000 hours before being retired in November 1969 and delivered to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum at Rockcliffe. It was one of 51 Viscounts operated by TCA (later Air Canada). Powered by four 1740 hp Rolls Royce Dart turboprops, the Viscount 757 had a maximum speed of 380 mph and a service ceiling of 28,000 feet.

Famous singer Ray Charles owned a Viscount 835 from 1977 to 1985. It was written off in a crash on 19 October 1985 at Bloomington Indiana. The last Viscounts in service flew in Africa in the late 1990's.

Fall means changeable weather. Brief well before flying. Blue skies and tail winds.

The winner of September’s contest is Suzanne Tschida of Navarre, Florida. Others who know old airliners include Dave Smith, Tom Anderson, Bob Heavirland, Joe Connell, and Graydon Carlson, who rode in one in the late 1950’s when he was stationed at Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado.


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