Yep – the armchair pilot flies again. This time in a Vickers Vimy Replica of a bomber built for the first world war.
The plane arrived too late due to problems with engine supply to have much input in the outcome of the war but it did go on to set long distance records in peacetime. Amongst them were the first trans-atlantic flight by Alcock & Brown. The first flight from England to Australia and an attempt to fly from England to Capetown. The latter doesn’t really count as the pilots had one plane go down with engine failure. A second plane was borrowed but crashed and broke up on landing at Bulawayo. The intrepid pilots carried on in a third borrowed plane of a different make to reach Capetown.
In 1992 a vintage aeroplane enthusiast – Peter McMillan got the bug to replicate these journeys and didn’t stop untill he had dunnit – with a little help from his friends. First he took the original plans for the aircraft to the US where he built a replica from the ground up. He got round the engine problem by fitting latter day BMW units. Mr McMillan went bust twice during the proccess of building and flying the plane.
Photo of Vickers Vimy Replica NX71MY – origin unknown.
In 1994 McMillan and Lang Kidby replicated the original historic multi-stop flight from England to Australia in their Vickers Vimy Replica NX71MY.
In 1999 they successfully completed the multistop flight from England to Capetown with their same Vickers Vimy Rep NX71MY.
In 2005 Steve Fosset and Mark Rebhilz flew from Newfoundland to Ireland in Vickers Vimy Rep NX71MY. A successfull completion of the first Transatlantic flight by the original Vickers Vimy six months after the end of hostilities in 1918.
Steve Fosset, the intrepid Adventurer – holder of over 100 world records including circum-navigating the world Phileas Fogg style in a hot air balloon was to lose his life while flying solo in a light aircraft in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 2008.
Here is Vickers Vimy NX71MY flying over Brooklands – photo courtesy of Jamiestar
Why now? Tonight Peter McMillan will be recognised for his efforts at the Royal Geographical Society Museum in Kensington, London. Let’s hope he also replenishes his bank account with the procceeds from the sale of the book about his epic 20 year journey to replicate the flights of those early pioneers in aviation.
The book is aptly named Journey’s End. No doubt my kids will bring me a copy bought on Amazon when they make their once a year visit from their ‘busy’ lives just before Christmas. I’ll thank them nicely and won’t tell ’em I’ve already had a signed First Edition from my good friend Peter so that I can build the plane and fly his routes from the comfort of my armchair 🙂