British Airways celebrates Her Majesty’s milestone

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 8, 2015
The Queen arrives by Concorde at Kuwait in 1979. (British Airways)
The Queen arrives by Concorde at Kuwait in 1979. (British Airways)

British Airways (BA) has celebrated the the occasion of The Queen becoming the UK’s longest reigning monarch with a look back at some of the trips Her Majesty has taken on board the UK flag carrier during her six decades on the throne.

Queen Elizabeth II has travelled extensively on British Airways and predecessors BOAC and BEA aircraft over the years, including to Australia in 2011.

The UK Monarch’s first flight as Queen was on a BOAC Argonaut from Kenya back to Britain in 1952. It during a state visit to Kenya that then Princess Elizabeth learned of the death of her father King George VI, which elevated her to Queen and resulted in her cutting the trip short.

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BA has released a series of photographs from its Speedbird Heritage Centre that show Her Majesty on board various aircraft including a Concord, Viscount, Comet 4, Agronaut.

Original copy of the telegram The Queen received from her mother on a BOAC aircraft following her father's death. (British Airways)
Original copy of the telegram The Queen received from her mother on a BOAC aircraft following her father’s death. (British Airways)
The Queen leaving her BEA Vickers Viscount aircraft during her state visit to Portugal in February 1957. (British Airways)
The Queen leaving her BEA Vickers Viscount aircraft during her state visit to Portugal in February 1957. (British Airways)
The Queen is greeted on one of her Royal tours, having arrived in a BOAC Argonaut aircraft. (British Airways)
The Queen is greeted on one of her Royal tours, having arrived in a BOAC Argonaut aircraft. (British Airways)
The Queen at the Machmeter during her flight on Concorde from Barbados to London, November 1977. (British Airways)
The Queen at the Machmeter during her flight on Concorde from Barbados to London, November 1977. (British Airways)
A dinner card on board one of the Queen's flights signed by British Airways crew. (British Airways)
A dinner card on board one of the Queen’s flights signed by British Airways crew. (British Airways)

Airline staff who have served the Queen on some of those flights say it was a special experience.

Retired chief steward Bob Godfrey, who served the Queen on two separate flights, in 1972 and 1990, said: “We all felt so proud when we boarded the aircraft and couldn’t believe our Queen would shortly be coming on board.”

Cabin crew Jane Ainley, who looked after Her Majesty on the nonstop flight home from Perth to London – the first nonstop Australia-Europe flight – following a state visit in 2011, said it was a thrilling experience.

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“My father also had the honour of carrying The Queen on a flight from Heathrow to Vancouver back in 1963 so I felt rather emotional when I was given the opportunity to follow in his footsteps!” Ainley said.

While the BA flights were special charters, Her Majesty took her first commercial flight in 1995, when she flew Air New Zealand NZ1 from London to Auckland via Los Angeles to attend Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

British Airways crew wearing the uniforms they wore when they flew The Queen (British Airways/Geoff Caddick-Press Association)
British Airways crew wearing the uniforms they wore when they flew The Queen (British Airways/Geoff Caddick-Press Association)
Past and present British Airways crew celebrate the Queen. (British Airways/Geoff Caddick-Press Association)
Past and present British Airways crew celebrate the Queen. (British Airways/Geoff Caddick-Press Association)

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