The curious cargoes of Air Atlantique’s DC-3s in the 1980s

Air Atlantique’s Douglas Dakotas carried all manner of cargo – from Cognac to cabbages – in their busy ’80s heyday, as Charles Woodley details in a new book charting the carrier’s history

Air Atlantique’s World War Two-era transports were a common sight at UK airports in the 1980s – its fleet being deployed on a host of ad-hoc services catering for aviation enthusiasts, D-Day veterans and everyone in between. The shortest flight operated in 1982 covered just 14 air miles. A company boss wanted to arrive at his firm’s Christmas lunch in style, so hired a Dakota to fly him into a nearby airfield where he disembarked in solitary splendour.

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This livery, featuring osprey clutching a fish in its talons on the aircraft's fin, was unveiled in 1987 following a competition to design the carrier's new colour scheme. AirTeamImages.com/Wolfgang Mendorf

More unusual Dakota charters transported a consignment of brandy from Cognac into the UK and carried a party of pig farmers from Aberdeen to Coventry, but it was the mail and newspaper contracts that provided vital year-round revenue. Three Dakotas were stationed at Blackpool for newspaper flights to Belfast and the Isle of Man, while two more carried mail between Newcastle and Liverpool, five nights a week.

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