The Papal Visit of
Pope John Paul II to Britain
Despite concerns over the Falklands conflict, the visit to Britain by Pope John Paul II went ahead as planned. The Pope arrived at Gatwick on board an Alitalia jet on 28th May 1982. British Caledonian Airways and British Caledonian Helicopters were specially appointed to play a central role during the historic Pastoral Visit to Britain by His Holiness Pope John Paul ll.
The Pope was flown to his engagements around Britain by BCal, this called for precision planning and fail-safe operation by a specially-prepared fleet of helicopters and aircraft.
The Pope was met by huge crowds at every stop and BCal's fleet transported the Pope and his entourage by Sikorsky S-61 Helicopters. Though for longer flights around Britain BCal 1-11, G-BJRT, did the honours flying the Pope from RAF Leeming to Edinburgh on 31st May and also Edinburgh-Cardiff on 2nd June. The Pope flew back to Rome onboard BCal 707 G-AXRS later that day, 2nd June.
In all, the Pope flew 7,500 miles on BCal’s aircraft and helicopters and the visit was widely acknowledged as a great success. Below we have some great images of the Papal visit, some commemorative items, and just here one of the Pope's flight tickets.
The Pope emerges from a BAC 1-11 G-BJRT at Cardiff
Pope John Paul arrives by BCAL helicopter at Crystal Palace, where he is greeted by Denise Moore, BCal Executive Services Agent.
A BCal Helicopters S-61N carrying the Pope descends into Glasgow's Bellahouston Park where vast crowds gathered for an open-air Mass
The final farewell His visit over, the Pope pauses to wave goodbye from the steps of the BCal 707 G-AXRS. Pope John Paul announced he was taking with him to Rome the best memories of Britain. On the right is Captain Rex Cotterell, BCal 707 Fleet Manager.
A special, private moment for BCal airport agent Barbara Afek as she welcomes Pope John Paul to Edinburgh. Barbara, whose parents are Polish, kissed the Pope's ring and was blessed by him at the foot of the steps from G-BJRT. On the left is the flight's Senior Hostess Angela Wiejska.
The Pope arrives at Cardiff's Rhoose Airport
|Wimbledon to Canterbury
||Wimbledon to Coventry via Crystal Palace
||RAF Leeming to Edinburgh
|Edinburgh to Cardiff
||Cardiff to Rome
||Papel Commemorative cover
My thanks to Allen McLaughlin, Coreen O'Flaherty, Harry Miller and Tony Creasey for all their help with this page.