MIAMI – Today in Aviation, the iconic Vickers VC10 took off on its maiden flight from Brooklands Airfield, Surrey at 17:25 GMT in 1962. 

The prototype – G-ARTA – took 19 minute to fly to nearby Wisley where extensive further testing and cabin fitting was carried out.    

At the time, Vickers engineers were concerned that the 1152m runway at Brooklands may be too short for a safe take-off run. Adjustments were made, including a temporary 183m extension at the north end of the runway. A large yellow line was also painted across the tarmac to warn the pilot of the remaining runway length available should a rejected take-off be required.

The prototype VC10 G-ARTA took off from Brooklands on Friday June 29, 1962. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Military Beginnings

The VC10 was developed in the early 1950s after manufacturer Vickers was tasked with creating a military transporter for the Royal Air Force (RAF), the V1000. British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) were interested in a passenger variant, dubbed the V7. Sadly the UK government pulled the plug which also meant the end of the V7.  

BOAC went on to order the Boeing 707. However, the American jet was not suitable for many of its routes to Africa and Asia. 

The VC10 was built to meet the very specific requirements of BOAC and the airline became the biggest operator of the type. (Photo: BAE Systems)

A Clean-sheet Design

Vickers stepped in with their state-of-the-art VC10. The airliner was a clean-sheet design but used many of the same features put forward for the V1000 and V7. 

G-ARTA went on to serve with BOAC, British United Airways (BUA), British Caledonian (BCAL) and Middle East Airlines (MEA). 

On January 28, 1972 the aircraft was involved in a hard landing at Gatwick and was subsequently broken up.

G-ARTA in service with British United Airways. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Featured image: ZA150 Vickers VC10 K3 Royal Air Force. Photo: Wikimedia Commons