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P_7878

The amazing story of one little BN2

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[Note: This post (I've been thinking about it, for a while) and the SIM images, below, (about the BN-2 Islander aircraft) was triggered by some (recent) interest, a member post, here, and a comment on my (last) S330 post. This is about a remarkable (but little known and nearly forgotten) episode of history...Anyway, here we go...Hope you enjoy...]

When we think of Air Races to Australia, we might recall the well-known 1934 (London to Melbourne) MacRobertson Trophy Air Race or the classic (England to Australia) Vickers Vimy (Smith Brothers') flight of 1919. But, there was another less-known, but quite noteworthy air-race, in 1969, this time, from Gatwick (located less than 30 miles south of central London), to Sydney (Australia), to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1919 Vickers flight. This race was also known as the "BP England-Australia Commemorative Air Race".

The race had three categories of aircraft entries: (A) Single piston engine (B) Twin piston engines (3) Turboprop engines. It was to be handicapped, and by "handicap", it's implied that all contestants were given equal chances of winning - assuming, of course, they stayed on course, and stayed on time, to successfully traverse the route, without any kind of (terminating) failures, all the way to Sydney, ~10000+ miles away (a truly daunting task for the light aircraft involved). All competitors had to follow the 1919 route of the Vimy and make seven compulsory stops at Athens, Karachi, Calcutta (now Kolkata), Singapore, Darwin, Alice Springs and Adelaide. For visualization, I've placed these en-route waypoints on a (SimBrief) MAP  (please see screenshot below). The aircraft were, first, due to reach Adelaide, before Christmas 1969. They were to wait there until January 2nd for the final leg of the race from Adelaide to Sydney, where the overall winner would then be found and announced.

Entry fees for the three classes would be $60, $100 and $150 (so, please note a BN2 would've paid an entry fee of $100). A total of $100,000 in prize money would be awarded. Entries flooded in. On December 17, 1969, at, Gatwick, the departure point, a total of 77 entrants (from many EU countries, and, USA, Kenya, Zambia, and, of course, Australia and New Zealand) were to be flagged away (the start was actually delayed by a day, to December 18th, because of heavy fog and snow, covering much of northern Europe). It was absolutely the worst time of year for a light aircraft to be flying through Europe and then (later) through the heavy rains of the South-East Asian monsoon (e.g. for Singapore, one of the mandatory en-route stops of the race, December is often the wettest month of the year)!

Small planes such as (Auster AOP, Rollason Condor, Beagle Pup, Piper PA-24 Comanche, Piper PA-28 Cherokee, Cessna 180 etc.) were pitted against one another. Curiously, there were even a Fan Jet Falcon (marketed name of American-delivered Dassault Falcon 20) of the Canadian Armed Forces and a Hawker Siddeley HS.125 of Qantas (recall "handicap" - no strict-rule-based prohibitions for such jet aircraft, but speed alone would not win the race - the proverbial slow (not too slow, of course!) and steady is what would matter)! As anticipated, right from the start itself, the pilots had to contend with bad weather and icing and there were many landings scattered across Southern France and Italy, some pilots having to cope with landing in winds of 40 knots. At Brindisi (southern Italy), a Mooney tried three times to land safely before damaging a wingtip on its final touchdown. An Aero Commander 500S (I'd, coincidentally, recently posted about Carenado's Aero Commander) lost its way somewhere over the Swiss Alps on the first day. The strain was already taking its toll on the contestants (plane and pilot)! The crew of an Australian Cessna 210 fell behind so badly that they had to abandon the race....a Beech Bonanza 36, was (likely) leading the race, or close to, when the pilots ran out of fuel approaching Griffith in New South Wales (so close to the end-of-race!)...the force landing tore out the nose wheel and put them out of the race,...and so on...the race unravelled...

Of the 72 competitors who had been flagged off at Gatwick, 58 made it to Adelaide. And, yes, the overall winner was the rugged and reliable, a humble Britten‐Norman Islander (G-AXUD), capably flown by (Englishmen) Captains W. J. (Bill) Bright and F. L. (Frank) Buxton, with (actual) flight time from London to Adelaide Section of 76 hours 41 minutes (reaching Adelaide on 29 Dec. using ten en-route stops and more than 10 days after they left Gatwick). They received the Prime Minister’s Trophy and the BP Australia Prize (among others), for a total of $45,750 (a bountiful return, in those days, for a meager $100 investment!), plus, of course, recognition and fame. The Islander was a standard version powered by two 6-cylinder Lycoming (260 hp) engines and was fitted with long‐range ferry tanks. You may search for "aircraft photo g-axud" to be led to the pictures of this historic plane. [Side Note: Second and third places were taken by a Cessna 310 and a Piper Twin Comanche.]

Now, about the SIM images below: First of all, I could not find (G-AXUD) BN2, so, purely, at my discretion (please excuse), I've opted, instead, to fly a livery that happened to catch my attention, of the Kiwi Regional Airlines (close enough to Australia, I thought). This airline was based out of Hamilton, NZ, had commenced operations in October 2615, and ceased to exist in less than a year, in July 2016 due to unsustainable demand of its route network. It was merged with Air Chathams in 2016. The airline did not seem to own any BN2, but, owned and operated a single Saab 340A aircraft.

Anyway, below, please find a set of symbolic images of the BN2-Islander lifting off from Gatwick (EGKK) and of arriving at Sydney (YSSY). I've not flown the entire route. Even (just) in the SIM, it sounded quite daunting, indeed!! Nonetheless, hope you enjoy this post, as much I did creating it, evocative of, at least, bits of memories of an almost forgotten air-race, where the little BN2, against all odds, had proved its worth in gold!! (BTW, if own this F1 BN2, you may have noticed that I've used, here, a different Gold Panel background (vs. the standard blue), available, in the Library).

Comments and supplementary notes are welcome! And, Good (rest of the) weekend all!

[I hear the door-bell...my grocery has been (thankfully) delivered...I'll next have to see about that badly needed haircut....]

[F1/Virtavia(BN2)/Orbx(England/Australia)/REX]

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15 hours ago, P_7878 said:

F1/Virtavia(BN2)

Very nice plane. And very professional, glamorous photoshooting of this attractive lady, well done!

Could not find this a/c on the Virtavia homepage. But for sure nearly everybody knows the Flight 1 BN-2 Islander 🙂

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Always safe landings 😉
Torsten

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I think it was transferred to Flight1 from Virtavia. Interestingly both the Virtavia and Flight1 manuals are included in the package.

Another great bit of research and history P_7878. Do you have any on the range increase with the ferry tanks?

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Mark Robinson

"What's it doing now?"

Author of FLIGHT: A near-future short story (ebook available on amazon)

I made the baby cry - A2A Simulations L-049 Constellation

Sky Simulations MD-11 V2.2 Pilot. The best "lite" MD-11 money can buy (well, it's not freeware!)

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**Superb** The Night Lighting is Incredible!

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File-Jul-21-6-32-57-PM.png

Patrick

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Posted (edited)

Patrick: Appreciated the kind words!! Hope you're hanging on there (safe) in Chicago...!!

Torsten:

Thanks! Yes, as Mark said, the product must have been transferred to Flight1 for distribution and sale.

I generally check the "Aircraft.cfg" file for origin and developer (e.g. see below):

// Virtavia BN-2B Britten Norman Islander (FSX only)
// Original FDE by Shane Olguin
// Modified FDX by Alexander M. Metzger version 2010.08.17

BTW, I found an interesting bit of related information...for the (Aerosoft/Digital Aviation) CRJ SIM, which I also own, there, the top three lines of "Aircraft.cfg" are as follows:

// Flight dynamics developed by Alexander M. Metzger for Digital Aviation / Aerosoft Bombardier CRJ700 and CRJ900
// Copyright owned by Alexander M. Metzger and licensed to Aerosoft
// Version 4.0 published August 10, 2017 with new default loads

Do you see the common developer name...? Must be quite a talented developer...!

Yes, this BN2 aircraft (SIM) has been around since a long time, but still retains its (original) appeal. And, unfortunately, I think, the F1 BN2 remains for FSX only, but, the AS CRJ, above, if you don't have it, I highly recommend (if you're into Regional Jets...i.e.)


Mark:

Interesting question...especially for those days of (ultra-long-distance) light-aircraft operation...

For ferry tanks, lots of details are available , but, not too many specific details are available about that particular plane/race...

(if you recall, someone had asked during my post on Antarctica X by AS, and they had added very specific ferry-tank fuel calculation details for the DHC Twin Otter, quite interesting)...

But, here, we know, the pilots used ferry tanks, and made 3-extra (permitted) stops beyond the mandatory 7 stops - for a total of ten en-route stops. Surely, the inter-stop distances must have varied quite a bit (please see MAP above). BTW, it just occurred to me (probably) why they made 10 stops. The standard BN2 Islander has a range of (600nm-800nm). So, assuming a total distance of ~10,000nm for the race (no "getting-lost" on the way permitted, as some, indeed, did...!), they wished to average 1000nm between stops. So, they must have carried one extra Ferry Tank, for safety.

Anyway, over-water segments, low-altitude flying, (carefully) making sure you don't wander into the Alps and the Himalayas...and, all these, in clearly-anticipated bad weather of winter/snow in the West and monsoon/rains in the East...

For sure, this stuff is not for the faint-of-heart..! Kudos to the pilots and the plane..!

 

Edited by P_7878
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Yes, the name Alexander Metzger is very famous in the community.
As far as I know he is a specialist in flight dynamics and helps a lot of talented developers in this specific section.


Always safe landings 😉
Torsten

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Interesting catch regarding the developer! :cool:

Yes, it was an epic journey, even some 60 years after the Vimy flight (even more epic!)

I might just have a go at recreating the full flight, well I'd include the scheduled stop locations, but not the actual routes taken (if indeed the actual routes are available for reference at all). I haven't yet tried saving a flight with the Islander, but I would hope that being a relatively simple aeroplane I won't be thrown into a panic frantically chasing systems when the flight reloads. :wacko:

I'd have to fudge the range by topping up the fuel via the FSX menu on the fly (pun intended!)


Mark Robinson

"What's it doing now?"

Author of FLIGHT: A near-future short story (ebook available on amazon)

I made the baby cry - A2A Simulations L-049 Constellation

Sky Simulations MD-11 V2.2 Pilot. The best "lite" MD-11 money can buy (well, it's not freeware!)

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Yes, Mark, that sounds good. The nice thing is that you can do it in segments, at least, doing fuel calculations for each segment...(no Ferry Tank on your SIM...! BTW, I was reading, having extra Ferry Tank(s), sometimes, just behind your (I mean, the RL Pilots') seats creates additional Avgas smell to deal with...cannot be too pleasant on long trips...you will be glad, you don't have to worry about that here)....

And, if you find the three remaining stops/cities of theirs, I'm curious to know...I ran out of time, and couldn't find them...

Of course, getting a real (G-AXUD) BN-2A repaint will be an added bonus...(if you can request someone to do it. I believe, you may have some connections in such places...if I recall correctly)...

Finally, some/any scenery (even if FW) of, at least, the en-route stops/airports will also be nice...(life may get in your way for all these...oh well..)...

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16 hours ago, P_7878 said:

....additional Avgas smell to deal with...

 a real (G-AXUD) BN-2A repaint will be an added bonus.....

..some/any scenery (even if FW) of, at least, the en-route stops/airports will also be nice

:biggrin:

I was thinking of placing a small tray behind my chair filled with some unleaded petrol (closest I can get to actual avgas..) for added immersion.. :wacko: :tongue: Not sure what our pets or, more importantly my (long-suffering!) wife would think of that idea.. 

One can always request a paint scheme. The only "connections" I have would be the particular people who fulfilled the requests at the time, but I know what you mean! :cool:

Strangely enough, when I decide to create a flight, my first job is to go looking for freeware airports, if I don't already have them (payware and freeware), great minds think alike!

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Mark Robinson

"What's it doing now?"

Author of FLIGHT: A near-future short story (ebook available on amazon)

I made the baby cry - A2A Simulations L-049 Constellation

Sky Simulations MD-11 V2.2 Pilot. The best "lite" MD-11 money can buy (well, it's not freeware!)

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A little bit of digression if I may:

Incidentally, I think that the striped paint scheme might have been a factory option. Take a look at competitor no. 68, another Islander:

https://1000aircraftphotos.com/Contributions/RyePeter/8351.htm

Red & black as opposed to blue...


Mark Robinson

"What's it doing now?"

Author of FLIGHT: A near-future short story (ebook available on amazon)

I made the baby cry - A2A Simulations L-049 Constellation

Sky Simulations MD-11 V2.2 Pilot. The best "lite" MD-11 money can buy (well, it's not freeware!)

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Hi Mark:

I hit a bit of a gold-mine on this...and your (competitor # 68) mystery is solved, I think....

Please go to British Pathe archives (britishpathe.com)

And, look for the 2 footage, below, there may be more:

  1. United Kingdom: Pilots Prepare For England-Australia Air Race
  2. United Kingdom: England-Australia Air Race Gets Off To Delayed

The 1st one is in color (quite anxious crowd there...notice the lady taking time to apply lip-balm/lip-care while chatting with dignitaries...)

The 2nd one is Black & White, but more interesting/informative: Quite good to see all the aircraft lined up behind the white line, and, the elderly gentleman, shaking hands with all the departing pilots (I especially noted the pilot with heavy-mustache...).

Just after the fly-over/fly-past bit, at 1:38, a BN2 seems to be taking off, matches color of G-AXSN, but I cannot read the REG clearly, could it be your (found) G-AXSN?? So, there were 2 BN2s, then, in the race! Then, AT 1:40, comes another aircraft (G-ARWL), and next is, clearly, our (G-AXUD) BN2, at 1:50!!

So, the racer, G-AXSN, had Red/Black lines along the fuselage.Wonder what happened to that plane...
And, the racer/winner, G-AXUD had Blue/Black lines along the fuselage.

Good-luck with more search!

[And, regarding, getting "prior-approval" from the higher-authorities, for placing "unleaded petrol" behind your pilot's seat - also Good-luck!!]

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A great find there sir!

BTW - regarding G-AXSN, the blurb accompanying the colour photo I linked to has this to say.

Quote

11/30/2008. Remarks by Johan Visschedijk: "Manufactured in 1969 and test flown with the 'Class B' registration G-51-22, this aircraft was destined for the USA, however, the registration N870JA was not taken up. As G-AXSN and numbered 68 it participated in the London - Sydney Air Race that took place between December 18, 1969 and January 4, 1970.

Flown by Hugh Astor of Southampstead, Berkshire, UK, it ended as 33rd in a field of 61 single and twin-engined aircraft. The winner was another Islander, G-AXUD c/n 132.

G-AXSN was registered in Australia as VH-ROV on January 30, 1970, and was subsequently registered as P2-ROV (Papua New Guinea), P2-PAA, P2-ISM, H4-AAI (Solomon Islands, not taken up), P2-ISS, YJ-RV6 (Vanuatu), before it became VH-CSU. It is still registered as such as of this day."

 


Mark Robinson

"What's it doing now?"

Author of FLIGHT: A near-future short story (ebook available on amazon)

I made the baby cry - A2A Simulations L-049 Constellation

Sky Simulations MD-11 V2.2 Pilot. The best "lite" MD-11 money can buy (well, it's not freeware!)

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Mark: Thanks for the (happy) update about (G-AXSN)! Good to know...I wish, I could say the same about the winning (G-AUXD)...!

Wrap-up Notes (Tragic end of the winning BN2 (G-AUXD)):

[Note: This was more than what I'd anticipated, a completely unexpected finding, and a (rather) dramatic ending to the story of the hero of my post...(I wish the internet had spoken otherwise!)...]

The 1969 "BP England-Australia Commemorative Air Race", above, would be called “The Last Great Air race”, that would pitch a strange variety of entrants against one another (from the tiny "Tiger Moth" to much larger jet aircraft) - due to its "handicap" stipulation. After BN2 (G-AUXD) was declared the overall winner in Sydney, on Jan. 4, 1970, the owners of the aircraft and the two designers (John Britton and Des Norman) personally took the plane to PNG (Papua New Guinea), to a triumphant welcome. She would be then stripped of its ferry gear and put to work flying in PNG, on behalf of the owners, with Registration (ATZ) painted on its blue/black/white fuselage (please see search-hint in the post above for a picture of (original) plane).

After 20 years of continuous service, on Aug 8, 1988, she tragically crashed in the Kokoda Track area of PNG (the Wiki for Kokoda Track is worth a look). For a year or more, she lied in mud, where she had fallen, unable to be lifted off. Meanwhile, the 1919 Winner, which, this plane was meant to commemorate, was proudly on display in Adelaide airport.

A helicopter, using ropes, was deployed to lift the plane from its mud-bath. During this exercise, maneuverability was lost, and the ropes had to be cut-off. So, the plane went flying back into the grounds - into this harsh terrain again. She is, apparently, still lying there, waiting for another search effort (for all or part of the plane to be retrieved)...hope it comes for her...!!

[Note: Orbx has a Freeware offering of the "PNG - Holgermesh Papua New Guinea", which I'd installed, I recall...but, I don't have their AYPY (Jacksons International Airport) package...

AYPY description says:
"...it is the largest and busiest airport in the country, included with this are 10 terrifying and sloping bushstrips located along the Kokoda track..."

What a forbidding place as the final resting ground for this plane...! I'm tempted to get AYPY, it's still on SALE...

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As regards, G-AXSU I thought she was retired because according to the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), VH_CSU is currently (31/03/2020) a Cessna 182T.. https://www.regosearch.com/aircraft/au/CSU

Scratch that. It appears that G-AXSU now has the reg P2-NAV, delivered in 2009 to National Air Services, PNG and still active, along with 4 other Islanders..

http://www.planelogger.com/Aircraft/Registration/P2-NAV/671897

http://www.planelogger.com/Airline/Fleet/National_Aviation_Services/126419#RegistrationList

 

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Mark Robinson

"What's it doing now?"

Author of FLIGHT: A near-future short story (ebook available on amazon)

I made the baby cry - A2A Simulations L-049 Constellation

Sky Simulations MD-11 V2.2 Pilot. The best "lite" MD-11 money can buy (well, it's not freeware!)

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Fantastic story and pics, P_7878. I knew of the two vintage races, but not about the 1969 one. Very interesting indeed. Many thanks for posting !

Btw, taking about air races, there is a company (Vintage Air Rally) that organizes air rallies with vintage bi-planes now and then. There are a few videos on youtube, dealing for example with one such trip from Crete in Greece to Cape Town in 2016. Quite interesting to watch a few of them, actually. Here are two links:

 

Enjoy.

 

  

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Any attempt to stretch fuel is guaranteed to increase headwinds

My specs: Intel Core i7-4790 @ 3.6 Ghz, NVidia GeForce GTX970, 32GB RAM, screen resolution: 2560x1080

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