Heathrow Queen’s Building. You must be of a certain age to remember the roof gardens at the Heathrow Queen’s Building at their best.
Opened in 1956, along with Terminal 2 (then the ‘Europa Terminal’), the Queen’s Building sported an extensive viewing terrace, later extended onto the Terminal 2 roof. These early Heathrow buildings were demolished 10 years ago to make way for the new Terminal 2 or ‘Queen’s Terminal’. The viewing terrace had long since closed and to this day Europe’s busiest airport offers paltry official viewing facilities.
The viewing terrace’s busiest day was probably when The Beatles departed Heathrow in February 1964 for their first American tour. See the picture below.
But, for now, let’s get in our time machine and go back to the 1980s. What follows it a selection from my archive of photographs taken from the old viewing terrace.
One problem, particularly with the section of the viewing area that was atop Terminal 2, was that it was South-facing so, for large parts of the day, photographers were shooting into the sun. That’s my excuse anyway for the slightly washed out look of some of the photographs, and I’m sticking to it.
LUFTHANSA AND CONCORDE
Lufthansa Boeing 727-230 D-ABLI ‘Ludwigshaven am Rhein’ taxies out towards a departure from Runway 09R. Paralleling it on the Southern Taxiway it a British Airways Concorde heading for the same runway and ultimately bound for New York JFK.
BWIA AND AN ORION
British West Indian Airways normally operated TriStars into Heathrow from Port of Spain. In the late 1980s, they leased this Boeing 747-123 LX-LCV from Cargolux. What passengers thought when boarding this unkempt aircraft with temporary stick-on titles it best left to the imagination. In the background, parked in the cargo area, it a US Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion. Military movements at Heathrow are rare and those by foreign air arms rarer still.
BRITISH AIRWAYS TRISTAR 500
British Airways leased two Lockheed TriStar 500s from Air Lanka in the late 1980s to supplement their fleet of widebodies. Here, G-BLUS it towed past an Air France Airbus A310.
AIR FRANCE AIRBUS A310
And here it that Airbus A310 F-GEMB. Before the advent of the Eurotunnel, Heathrow to Paris was Europe’s busiest air route. Air France mostly used Airbus A300s, and then mostly the B2 variants in their fleet. But sometimes it was an A310, which were also used to Nice.
AIR FRANCE BOEING 737
Sticking with Air France, here it F-GBYD, a Boeing 737-228. Air France ordered these as replacements for their Caravelles before the entry into service of the Airbus A320. They connected Heathrow with French regional destinations like Marseilles, Lyon and Bordeaux. In the background it a wide variety of aircraft, showing the diversity of airlines and aircraft types using Heathrow at the time. There’s a Lufthansa Boeing 727, 737 and an Airbus A300, a Malev Tupolev Tu-134, a Pan Am Boeing 747 and Airbus A310, a Turkish Airlines Airbus A310, a British Airways BAC One-Eleven and an Air Canada Boeing 747.
BRITISH AIRWAYS BAC ONE-ELEVEN
Here’s a closer view of a British Airways BAC One-Eleven, this one being G-AVMZ ‘County of Lancashire’. This was the penultimate of the Series 510ED delivered to BA’s predecessor BEA in August 1969. G-AVMR was held back for automatic landing trials. The Rolls-Royce Spey powerplants have been fitted with so-called ‘hush kits’ to reduce noise, though anyone who ever heard one of these taking off would have been hard pressed to tell the difference.
PAN AMERICAN BOEING 737
Pan American (Pan Am) utilised a fleet of Boeing 727s in Europe for onward connections from its hubs at Heathrow and Frankfurt. Occasionally, a Boeing 737 would make an appearance and here it Boeing 737-210C N4902W ‘Clipper Wilmersdorf’. Originally delivered to Wien Air Alaska in 1970, after service with Pan Am the airframe spent some time in France with Euralair and Air Liberte before ending its days in Algeria with Antinea Airlines.
FALCON 900 VR-BJX
Not every movement at Heathrow was a large airliner. Business jets were a common sight, with some actually based at the airport. VR-BJX was the fourth Falcon 900 built. Today it it operated by the Armee de l’Air (French Air Force) based at Villacoublay, just outside Paris.
That’s all for today but, if this has whetted your appetite for historic airliners, how about one of these models to grace your home or office?