Air Ceylon Planes From The 1960s

Air Ceylon De Havilland DH-106 Comet 4 – Kuala Lumpur – Sungai Besi / Simpang (WMKF) Malaysia , 1963, G-APDC Taken on a trip from Ceylon to Singapore during a stopover at Kuala Lumpur.

I remember the Comet 4 well. It was the 1st jet plane that I ever saw. My father took us to Ratmalana Airport to see the 1st Comet 4 to touch down in Ceylon. It must have been around 1962 or 1963. It was a BOAC flight. I remember it taking off — towards the sea (i.e., west). Wow. I had never seen a plane climb up at such an angle (the technical term, that I since learnt, being ‘angle of attack). The noise. I was hooked. I already loved planes and was going to be a pilot. I wanted to fly a Comet 4. I thought it was the most beautiful of planes — displacing the Lockheed Constellation (Connie) that had been my prior favorite. There used to be a huge billboard for the BOAC Comet 4 on the way to Nugegoda. I am not sure how many of you remember that. Partly due to that billboard I could not, at the time, differentiate the Comet 4 from BOAC. To me it was always the ‘BOAC Comet 4’ — and my father would invariably correct me. Funny to see the above picture. Notice the BOAC logo and livery on the plane! As was the custom at the time, Air Ceylon would charter jets from the likes of BOAC for a few international trips. My parents flew on a Comet 4. Definitely once, which might have been their second round the world trip. That would have been c. 1965. I never got to fly in a Comet 4. The first time I flew on a jet was August 27, 1967 — when we left Ceylon for Buffalo, NY, U.S.A. We flew on a TWA 707. The 707 became my favorite jet and probably still is — though I am very partial to the 747 given the months I have spent inside them. They are both beautiful planes. I will still stop whatever I am doing if I see a 747 at an airport or up in the sky.

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A model of Lockheed Constellation in Air Ceylon livery.

My parents flew in a Connie. I remember that. I think that was still Ratmalana. I could be wrong. It might have been Katunayake. I also remember my father going off in a Connie on his own. That might have just been to a short trip in India. I never got to fly in one. I remember them. I still have an original TWA poster for a Connie hanging in my study.

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Air Ceylon Lockheed L-188C Electra PH-LLD Dutch registered Air Ceylon Electra, leased from KLM. London – Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) UK – England , 1961

I remember the Electras too. Not that well. I might have flown one. We flew to India in 1956 and did a fair amount of touring, some by air, in India. We even flew close to Nepal. That first flight to India in 1956 is my first real vivid, identifiable memory of my life. I think I had flow before — DC 3 within Ceylon. But I remember walking under the tall wing and getting onto the plane to fly to India. The whole family, plus more, went on that trip: my father, my mother, me, my mother’s mother, my mother’s youngest sister and a friend of my aunt’s. We were gone for about a month. My father was on a mission: to kind a sculptor for Ceylon! We, as a country, needed one. My father found one, in Madras. His name was ‘Money’. He came to Ceylon and lived there for over a decade. He was an important figure in my young life. But, back to that 1956 flight. I was 3 years old. I had it all worked out in my head as to why we were flying. I was, even at that tender age, way to sophisticated to be a ‘flat earther’. My world was tiered, each country at a different level. India, being bigger, was higher up than Ceylon. Hence the need to fly — to get to the higher tier. Pretty logical.

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