The Ken Fielding Gallery Pt 1
The following photos were kindly sent in by Ken, and I am pleased to be able to show them here
The photo of G-ASTF above was taken at Sebha, Libya, in Feb-69 during a Hajj operation for Kingdom of Libya Airlines (as it then was).
Sebha at that time was remote although it had a brand new Terminal just built by Wimpey and I'd flown down from Tripoli on a KLA Fokker F.27 as Haj Station Manager for the 10 day flight series. There were no catering facilities or fuel and the fire service consisted of two men, a Land Rover and a couple of bit's of hose!
The aircraft ferried in from Tripoli already cleaned, catered (the famous Hajj Boxes) and fuelled for the flight to Jeddah. This was almost the last flight in the series and went tech on arrival with a prop seal problem which put the No:3 prop into full feather. It had to do a 3 engine ferry back to Tripoli but with all that fuel on board and temperatures rising as the day progressed, it was rather overweight. We off-loaded the Hajj Boxes to feed the passengers on the ground. However the aircraft was still around 3,500kg overweight for a 3 engine ferry with a crew fast running out of duty time and we needed to offload around 600 gallons of fuel. What to do!
There was no fuel bowser. The solution was interesting to say the least. While I got the KLA Station Manager to phone the local Esso supplier for twelve 50 gallon drums, the flight engineer fashioned a piece of aluminium sheet into a rough funnel. The local Esso man wanted us to pay for the supply of the drums but we told him he could keep the 600 gallons of kerosene instead! 45 minutes later he was there with the drums on the back of a truck! We loaded the drums two at a time onto a baggage cart and positioned it under the inboard engine nacelle and, using the engineers improvised funnel and a length of hose from the 'fire service', The flight engineer opened the tap! It took about 90 minutes to take off the 600 gallons (and about a week for me to get rid of the smell of kerosene!).
The aircraft departed soon after, still perhaps a bit on the heavy side!. It wasn't so much a takeoff as retracting the wheels at the end of the runway. Fortunately, being desert, the area around Sebha was reasonably flat and the aircraft disappeared into the distance climbing very slowly.
Ken recalls, "The Caledonian Minivan was our ONLY ramp vehicle at Gatwick (LGW) and was already well past it's sell-by date! Before we got it in Traffic it had been used by the Operations Department to hammer the few miles up and down between Crawley Town Centre (where the head office, Ops and Crewing was located) and Gatwick carrying Navbags and other operational bits".