The BCal Light Aircraft Project

Roll-out of G-RECW
16th January 2017
On 16th January 2017, Robin Washington's Piper Archer G-RECW, freshly painted in the colours of British Caledonian, was rolled-out of the hangars at Biggin Hill to be greeted by the Project Team, many former BCal staff, the management of Biggin Hill and the media.

I am pleased to say we have some photos of the unveiling, my thanks to all who have sent some in.

(if you recognise anyone, please can you pop over their names and I can add them in - Thank you)

There is also coverage from Meridian ITV Local news too.  Please click here to watch it

And below we have coverage by Flight International and on the right a video by BUA & BCal man; David Hicks
Ready for the unveiling
Ready for the unveiling
Lots of BCal uniforms on display
Lots of BCal uniforms on display
Presentation to BCAL Light Aircraft Launch event - 16 January 2017
By Laurie Price

Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome aboard this first British Caledonian Aviation event for 30 years. Please relax and enjoy the event”

Welcome to Biggin Hill, this unique celebration and unveiling.

Before I set out the programme, I would like to say:

Thank you to Robin Washington, Julie’s husband, who owns CW and without whose commitment, investment and dedication we would not be celebrating today.

Thank you to my co- conspirator, Richard Heywood who supported the scheme with me, and Andy Perkins for his help with gaining BA approval.

Thank you to Shonu and team from Falcon and Chris and Martin from RAS for their outstanding work on and repainting of CW.

Finally, thank you to Andrew, Robert and Andy from the Biggin Hill team for their generosity and support in facilitating today’s event  

The event

We are here today to do three things:

Celebrate the memory of Julie Washington, Robin’s wife and dedicate G-RECW as Julie - The Spirit of BCAL. That will be unveiled on the tarmac outside.

To promote the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice and Golden Lion Children’s Trust charities. Both have a BCAL connection.

The Hospice was founded in the late 70s and provided care to Julie and supported Robin and Robert. It has a further aviation association though the work on the hospice behalf of Sir George Edwards, one time Chairman of BAe which built the 1-11, an aircraft launched by BUA, BCAL predecessor and was the mainstay of BCALs short haul fleet. It is the only hospice serving SW Surrey and NE Hampshire whilst also supporting the work of Royal Surrey Hospital and St Luke’s Oncology centre in Guildford via the Beacon centre. It helps provide care and support to over 250 patients and their families a year and requires thousands of £ a day in charitable contributions to sustain its superb work.

The Golden Lion Children’s Trust was founded in 1973 by British Caledonian and other employees at Gatwick to provide days out with airlines and others for over 3000 children a year with special needs and those who are underprivileged. It has extended its role to provide specialist equipment for paediatric units and equipment and support for specialist schools. It relies totally on community raised funds for its existence. Helping those organisations is our reason for our being here today.

CW will be used by flying training organisation AirFirst at Blackbushe and be available for ex BCAL staff, and others, for 'trial lessons' through them with photos and video (on request). Those already holding PPL's will be also be able to hire her subject to check out. Part of those fees will go to the charities. We also intend to take CW to Air Shows with staff from both Charities to promote their work and help to raise funds for both.  We will also hope get to race and Grand Prix meetings helped by John who organises the ATC at such events and who is here today. Please speak to the charities representatives here today and support them. We are also organising for First Day Covers to be carried in CW on its flight from Biggin Hill to Blackbushe for them to then be sold in aid of the charities

To introduce the Caledonian Girls to unveil CW, officially name her, in so doing recognise the legacy of the BCAL to air transport.

Few of us would have gone on to enjoy successful rewarding careers but for the experience and commitment that BCAL imbued in us all. It gave us self-reliance, initiative, responsibility and a customer focus - we knew the customer had a choice. We thank Sir Adam, John de La Haye, Frank Hope and Alastair Pugh (here today) for that opportunity.  

Look where ex-BCAL staff have worked around the world. Including Sir Tim Clarke leading Emirates. They have run airlines, airports, consultancies, marketing and other businesses, employing thousands of staff, driven by an ethos derived from BCAL.

Many forget the pioneering innovations introduced by BCAL and predecessors. Innovations that passengers enjoy to this day, predating Virgin, Ryanair, and easyJet; - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

It championed Inclusive tour and north Atlantic charters reducing fares and increasing opportunity. Pioneered jets on UK domestics, introduced MiniPrix to Europe (a prelude to deregulation), developed new routes to the USA, launched Business Class and Door to Door, established BCAL Commuter network, and the Gatwick Heathrow Airlink.

In operations, quiet professionalism lead companies like American asking why despite leaving Dallas after them BCAL always arrived before them in the same DC10 type!

Who does not sing to the Beach Boys in memory of Caledonian Girls advertisements? Do you have a reservation sir addressed to a Sioux Chief?

Meanwhile we set the aviation policy agenda. Pushing Government for more opportunity; playing above our weight but not ability!  

BCAL was the launch customer of the A320 that has become one of the most successful civil air transports, dominating BA and easyJet short haul fleets.
Had privately owned BCAL not endorsed it, would it have been as successful?

Against that background of innovation, achievement, professionalism and commitment inspired by all that BCAL stood for that we are here today to
remember Julie as one of a truly great team in whom we can all be proud. We now have a tangible memory of BCAL with the Lion Rampant about to take to the skies again in support of two worthy charities with the same commitment and enthusiasm.

Thank you

LNP 16.1.2017

From David Spencer
G-RECW at Biggin Hill 17th Jan 2017
G-RECW at Biggin Hill 17th Jan 2017
Alastair Pugh & Robin Washington
Alastair Pugh & Robin Washington
From Tony Creasey
The Caledonian Pipe Band plays
The Caledonian Pipe Band plays
Alastair Pugh with Julie The Spirit of BCAL
Alastair Pugh with Julie The Spirit of BCAL
G-RECW at Biggin Hill 17th Jan 2017
G-RECW at Biggin Hill 17th Jan 2017
From Barbara Price / Phil Bowell
G-RECW at Biggin Hill - Jan 2017
G-RECW at Biggin Hill - Jan 2017
From Terry Wade
Terry Wade is a retired Air Traffic Controller from Gatwick and lives in Biggin Hill.

He is a keen aviation photographer and was fortunate enough to obtain a nice sunny shot of recently painted P28A G-RECW at Biggin Hill.

He says "I think it’s an amazing paint job and bought back fond memories of BCAL in my early years as a Controller at Gatwick, in fact my first job after leaving school was working for Dan Air there".
NEWS RELEASE (from Biggin Hill)                                                                      No: 01/17   17th January 2017


The sound of the bagpipes at London Biggin Hill Airport on Monday heralded a revival of the world-famous ‘Caledonian Girls’ of British Caledonian Airways
(BCAL) in aid of charitable causes.

A Piper Archer light aircraft in the colours of the former international airline with a strong Scottish identity was named ‘Julie - the Spirit of BCAL’ in memory of
former staff member Julie Washington who was based at their Heathrow Transfer desk for many years.  She died of cancer last year and received outstanding
treatment and care from the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Farnham.

More than 100 former staff members of the airline joined the occasion, including 10 Caledonian Girls in their original bright tartan uniforms, their first official
reunion for 10 years. The group were celebrating the legacy and contribution of their airline and that ethos drives their support for the two charities.

Uniquely, the light aircraft will be used to in the future help raise funds for these two special charities that are close to the BCAL group:

The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Farnham.  When a cure for cancer is no longer possible, the Hospice helps to manage pain and to improve the quality of
life for each patient and their family.  Every day is precious.

The Golden Lion Children’s Trust was formed by BCAL staff members in the early 70’s.  It has continued to flourish with a voluntary team providing
help and support for distressed and disadvantaged children.

Early fund raising in support of the launch occasion this week enabled a cheque for £3800 to be handed over to the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice and £1000 for
the Golden Lion Children’s Trust.
More Photos - see below
More Photos

Roll-out of G-RECW - page 2

The hosties are (going from nearest the fuselage)
Helena Chuter from CLAT (Ex BCAL Central London Air Terminal at Victoria), Shirley Bulmer - BCAL LHR transfer desk, Karen Strawson - ex BCAL air hostess, Liv Mauseth - ex Caledonian Airways hostess then on to BCAL Ticket Desk with me, Debbie Cornford - BCAL LGW check-in, Anne  - BA hostie, family friend and volunteer BCAL uniform wearer and Barbara Frame - BCAL LHR transfer desk
The Pipers were Jim McCombie (not shown above) Peter Doughty, David Newman, Linda Carpenter and Vic Falloon.
Flight International 29-01 to 06-02-17 edition
Flight International 29-01 to 06-02-17 edition