Surprise, Surprise.

One Summer in the 1960s, when I was a kid, Kelloggs’ Cornflakes gave away a clip-together toy plastic airliner with every packet. It was what they did in those days: small plastic objects mixed in with foodstuffs aimed at children. How did we ever survive childhood? Like many boys, I loved aeroplanes. But after the fifth or sixth Boeing 707, I was becoming rather jaded – and also sick of cornflakes. What I really wanted was the British equivalent of the 707 – the Vickers VC10, which was an aircraft that (as an airliner at least) had a short career. It was later adopted by the R.A.F as a transport and tanker aircraft, and so lived on for decades. For whatever reason young boys fall in love with one particular type of anything, I fell in love with the VC10. Strangely, in all my years, I have never actually seen one in the flesh, as it were. I accidentally took a photo of one from the window of  a Dash 8 as I flew between the English towns of Southampton and Newcastle once. But I didn’t realise I had until later when I blew up the picture on my computer. So, imagine my surprise when, recently, my daughter and I had reason to visit an establishment deep in the wilds of Surrey – to discover this…

“I don’t believe it.” I said as I slowed the car to a crawl. “A VC10!”

“A VC what?” My daughter inquired. Then, when her eyes fell upon it: “Oh, a plane.”

“That’s not any old plane.” I informed her. “That’s the lovliest airliner that ever flew.”

She wasn’t impressed. Only 747s and A380s float her metaphorical boat. So, having concluded my brief business there, I paused on the way out for some  more shots, and cursed that I hadn’t brought a long-lensed camera with me. If I’d have known, of course, I would have brought two or three. But this is the best I could do, under the circumstances…

Just imagine how graceful it would have looked during the era when it flew in dark blue and white B.O.A.C livery. The last of the all-British jet airliners. But persistance paid off: I did finally get that plastic VC10. And now I’ve seen one in the flesh too!

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