High flying salute to the Queen’s reign
BA staff mark monarch reaching milestone year
by BRITISH Airways staff – past and present – formed the number 63 on the runway at Heathrow to mark The Queen’s reign.
Around 30 pilots, cabin crew and ground staff, dressed in uniforms old and new, who have had the honour of flying The Queen gathered at Terminal 5 on September 2 to celebrate the milestone.
The airline staff raised a flag to celebrate Elizabeth II becoming Britain’s longest-reigning monarch on Wednesday (September 9).
Bob Godfrey, 79, a retired chief steward, who was pictured in 1972 greeting The Queen as she stepped off a flight from Heathrow to Turkey, said: “I had the honour of serving Her Majesty on two separate flights; once in 1972 and again in 1990.
“We all felt so proud when we boarded the aircraft and couldn’t believe our Queen would shortly be coming on board.”
To mark the occasion the airline has released the original telegram received on the flight back home to the UK, following the death of His Majesty King George V, from The Queen Mother to her daughter.
The message was received over the radio, written directly into the Captain’s log-book and then copied out by hand onto a BOAC signal form, before being presented to Her Majesty.
The airline also has a copy of the original flight path plan, topped with the image of a crown to depict the flight The Queen returned to the UK on.
These, along with the captain’s original logbook, which notes Princess Elizabeth was on board on January 31 and yet the aircraft that returned was carrying the new Queen, remain in the BA Speedbird Heritage Centre.
Jane Ainley, 47, long- haul cabin crew, who served The Queen on the flight home from Perth following her state visit to Australia in 2011 added: “I was thrilled to be asked to serve on a royal flight from Perth to London which was the first non-stop flight between Australia and the UK.
“My father also had the honour of carrying The Queen on a flight from Heathrow to Vancouver back in 1963 so I felt rather emotional when I was given the opportunity to follow in his footsteps!”
Patricia Pearce MBE, who joined BOAC (British Airways’ long-haul predecessor) in 1962 – a year before Elizabeth II was crowned – and served The Queen on her scheduled two-week Royal visit to New Zealand in 1974, said: “The trip ended up lasting almost two months because the Heath government was brought down in the middle of the trip so the royal couple had to come back to the UK and then fly back out again.
“I will always remember standing on the tarmac at Honolulu late at night as the plane taxied round the corner with the Royal Standard flying out the top of the aircraft.”
n PAST AND PRESENT: British Airways cabin crew, Laura Lanigan, Patricia Pearce, Bob Godfrey, Gillian Burrows, Trevor Lewis, Julie Thompson and Lucinda Starling, wearing the uniforms they wore when they had the honour of flying the Queen, on the runway at Terminal 5 Photos by Geoff Caddick