The Type 167 Brabazon was designed as a fully pressurised passenger airliner specifically for operating the direct London to New York service without having to refuel en route in the west-bound direction. Designated Mk 1, the first aircraft (the second not being completed) began its flight trials on 4 September 1949 powered by eight 1,863kW Bristol Centaurus 20 18-cylinder two-row radial engines. The second aircraft would have been powered by Bristol Proteus turboprops in coupled pairs. It was expected that the Mk 1 would be retained for experimental flight research into the problems associated with very large aircraft, while the Mk 2 would be furnished to carry 100 passengers by day or night, plus a flight crew of seven and eight stewards. However, although the Mk 1 flew well and BEA wanted to use it between London and Nice, France, fatigue cracks in the propeller mounting and other problems ended the project.
I saw the Brabazon land at Prestwick in 1951. I was staying with my granny in Troon and my friend and I went on the bus and in those days the runway ran across the road so we sat and waited for it to land.It was magnificent and I have a photo to prove it!
I recall seeing the Brabazon on its first flight. We were on the Army Cadet Force firing range at Pilning and I remember the CO taking his telescope to confirm that it was the Brabazon. Later the Sunday Express printed a full centre page article saying the aircraft was a waste of public money as there would be no market for a a hundred seater aircraft when existing 30-40 seater aircraft would be adequate for all future requirements.
I remember the Brabazon flying directly overhead when I was a young lad living in Letchworth. We moved there in 1950, so I guess it was some time after that. I understand the village of Charlton was demolished to make a longer runway at Filton, but as it turned out, the Brabazon didn't actually need the extra length! Sad for the residents of Charlton... PS (to V.L.) the Brabazon was not built until after WW2.
As a 10 yr old, I remember coming home from church on a Sunday morning and seeing the Brabazon on its maiden flight above the village of Old Down. The village was halfway between Rudgeway and Olveston, where Bill Pegg and Walter Gibb lived. I don't remember which pilot lived in which village.
Yes, I really well remember seeing the Brabazon fly over Prestwick around 1950 or so. I was probably about five at the time and in a group. I think I still have a drawing of it hidden away somewhere in the loft, done at Prestwick High School in class next day - looks like a fat sausage with two thinner sausages stuck on the sides and something like a triangular sausage at one end!
I thought that I had imagined this plane, my Dad was an aircraft welder at Prestwick Aerodrome, he used to talk about the Brabazone, nobody I spoke to seemed to remember it. The name stuck in my mind, just had to google it.
I only saw - and heard the Brabazon once and it was a sight that I will never ever forget. As a 16 year old student at Lawers College of Agriculture at Comrie in Perthshire, we were working in a potato field when this magnificent plane totally dominated the environmentsor several minutes. The air was still one moment and for the next few minutes nobody could take their eye off the Brabazon as the sound was like nothing I had ever heard and the sheer size was amazing. I have always had a great interest in aviation and still have. I feel very privileged to have witnessed the Brabazon flying directly overhead.
I watched many brabazon flights as a school boy but joined Bristol Aeroplane Co as an apprentice to become a Concorde Flight Test Engineer. I worked with people like Ken Fitzgerald and Malcome West. The aircraft that came down on the Severn was a Britannia w Bill Pegg at the controls. Interestingly the Boeing 777 is almost the same size as the Brabazon. It took 50 years to show that Bristols were ahead of their time
I was told that during fuselage pressure testing at Filton, a door blew out and landed quit far away. This accident resulted in all pressure tests being performed in water tanks as an industry standard.
The Brabazon did come down on the mud flats around the Severn. No one was hurt. It took a while to get it carted back to Filton for repairs. I remember the first flight, it was supposed to be taxi trails only but the test pilot, Bill Pegg, decided to take her up and do a circuit. All was fine on that first flight. How do I know? I was an apprentice at Bristol at the time and worked on the Brabazon, the Freighter, the Brigand, and some reconditioned Beaufighters circa 1946 to 1949. After WWII the aircraft industry was all up and down with frequent lay-offs. Looking back, Bristol could have done so much better if they had been a bit more forward thinking and not canabalized wings and other structures from earlier designs, because their engines were so much better than anything else at the time. Was still Fun!