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Short Belfast

  • Sean Maffett
  • Interview by: Ewan Burnet

Transcript

If you were a truckee, as I was,

the one airplane that you wanted to be on

was the Belfast, which was an absolutely wonderful airplane.

It could do things that no other airplane could do

at the time, it was huge!

It could carry big loads,

and coming from an airplane,

oh, after the Hastings I went on to the Andover,

which was another tactical transport.

And you could drop things out of the Andover.

You could drop Land Rovers out of the back of the Andover.

But the thing about the Belfast,

it had no doors that you could open in flight,

so you just went,

we flew to all sorts of exciting places around the world,

and took huge loads of stuff, and occasionally troops.

It was a really great job to have,

and it was my last flying job in the Air Force.

I happened to be there when the Belfast was discontinued.

It was done away with by a grateful government.

We all thought it was a quite extraordinary decision.

We thought that if...

We shared a squadron building.

Belfast Squadron was number 53.

We shared a squadron building with 10 squadron,

which was the VC10 squadron,

so of course, there was much rivalry between the two.

We all thought that if you were going to get rid of

one particular strategic transport aircraft,

get rid of the VC10, it was just an airliner!

You could buy another of those anytime,

but you couldn't replace the Belfast.

And sure enough, we were sort of proved right

when the Falklands War came along a few years later,

and the Ministry of Defense had to hire the Belfasts back

from the company that had bought them, Heavy Lift,

to keep Ascension Island resupplied.

The story goes that the amount of money

they had to pay Heavy Lift for the use of the Belfasts

would've kept the squadron going

for at least another couple of years.

But, that's the way of life.

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