1952 air display
From Flight, 25 July 1952
TO celebrate the opening, last May, of a new tarmac runway, which will greatly increase the usefulness of the island's airport, the Jersey Harbour and Airport Authorities staged an excellent air display on 17 July. The event was to have been held at Whitsun, but was postponed by the aviation-fuel shortage.
An indication of the growing importance of the airport is the fact that, despite the shortage, it handled 18,748 passengers during May alone — an increase of 44 per cent on the figure for May, 1951.
Situated at St Peter, five miles from St Helier, Jersey Airport is under Channel Islands' administration. Its commandant, Mr C Roche, has been in charge there since 1939. During the war, of course, the Luftwaffe relieved him of his duties, and from 1942-45 he was interned in Germany.
The benefit of the new runway (which is of tarmac, 1,400 yd long by 50 yd wide) will be felt mainly in the winter, as drainage of the former all-grass surface had been restricting movement of the larger aircraft. Now the airport is able to handle the latest types of medium-range airliner.
BEA, in fact, sent an Elizabethan there to take part in the display and to give a demonstration flight round the island to local dignitaries and officials. Flown by Capts Ross and Hadley, the Elizabethan (G-ALZV Earl of Leicester) carried a full load of passengers on its outward journey from London Airport; its time for the 200-mile journey was one hour. Other BEA machines at Jersey were Pionairs (which fly the regular services to the mainland), Islander-class Rapides, Dart-Dakota G-ALXN Sir Henry Royce, and Viking G-AMNJ Lord Fisher. The Corporation's chief executive, Mr Peter Masefield, arrived in the Viking, the first of the new 32-seat tourist versions.
All these types were displayed in a static park at Jersey, where they were inspected by a remarkably air-minded crowd some 20,000-25,000 strong. The secret of the visitors' enthusiasm lay in the fact that mainlanders had arrived in Jersey by air, while the islanders, for their part, took full advantage of the various local services and those to France, England, and Ireland.
The main routes, incidentally, are operated by BEA (in association with independent firms, notably Cambrian Air Services) and Aer Lingus. Another highspot in the static park was a camouflaged Bristol Sycamore from the Army helicopter flight at Middle Wallop — the first helicopter ever to visit the Channel Islands. Piloted by Major B E M Repton, it had made the 130-mile crossing from Eastleigh two days previously at a speed of 86 mph.
Further contrast was provided by Mr Tom Hayhow's immaculate yellow Aiglet Liege Lady (newly bedecked with painted flags as souvenirs of its owner's recent "record round-up") and a Vampire 5 of No 72 Squadron. Four other Vampires had arrived for the display; their leader (S/L D L Harvey, O/C Flying at North Weald) told us that he had been robbed of the honour of taking the first jet to Jersey by an unnamed American pilot who, in 1945, had safely set down on the grass an unserviceable Me 262.
Throughout the flying programme, Rapides and Pionairs were taking off from and landing at Jersey, lending a businesslike air to the otherwise festive proceedings. First to demonstrate were the Elizabethan and Dart-Dakota (Capt A S Johnson), both of which made impressive low runs on asymmetric power.
Visitors were then treated to the tantalizingly brief spectacle of two No 617 Squadron Canberras (one tip-tanked) which arrived in the circuit, made two or three dashes across the airport and thundered away towards their base, almost before one could say "dambust".
Auster's Ranald Porteous delighted the crowd with his deft and dashing show of aerobatics in the Aiglet Trainer; occasionally he flew straight and level between loops, stall turns, spins, slow rolls and flick rolls. Next in the air were four Vampires of 72 Squadron, piloted by S/L Harvey, F/L James, Maj Browne (US Marine Corps, attached to the RAF as squadron-commander) and Sgt Joachim; their formation act was followed by the Sycamore, in which Maj Repton demonstrated all the remarkable tricks associated with helicopters, including the "rescue" or transfer of one volunteer from terra firma to a swaying rope-ladder.
Excellent display timing
The display timing was excellent, and immediately after F/L Clayton completed his lively demonstration of Vampire individual aerobatics, Porteous and Hayhow took off with their Aiglets. The former placed parachutist "Dumbo" Willans neatly in the centre of the airfield, and Hayhow brought his Aiglet over the same spot soon afterwards by way of proving the efficiency of his Navigator (the Decca type). Having flown away from the island, he thereafter concentrated on greens and purples to find his way back on time and course.
Kindly co-operation from the USAF brought Jersey's air day to an almost-supersonic conclusion. In quick succession came a series of accurately-placed fly-pasts low along the new tarmac by four Thunder jets of the 20th Fighter-Bomber Wing, four Tornado jet bombers of the 47th Wing and, finally, four glittering Sabres of the 81st Fighter-Interceptor Wing.