STOP PRESS: Vickers Viking on its way to Blackbushe

Classic airliner being moved by road from Austria

The start of G-AGRW's move to Blackbushe.
The start of G-AGRW's move to Blackbushe. VIA PETER BROWN

Vickers Viking 1B G-AGRW is on its way from Bad Vöslau Airport south-west of Vienna to Blackbushe Airport, Surrey, where it will be subject to a restoration. The historic airliner, which dates from 1946, has been in open storage with the Austrian Aviation Museum since being moved from a previous display location adjacent to a McDonald’s restaurant near Vienna Airport.

Nearly ready to go onto the low-loader.
Nearly ready to go onto the low-loader. VIA PETER BROWN

Having been dismantled, G-AGRW was moved from Bad Vöslau by low-loader on 27 April. Earlier in the month, a team from the Vienna Airport fire service had repositioned the Viking on its wheels ready for dismantling. On arrival at Blackbushe, it will go straight into a specially erected hangar.

Separating the stub wings from the fuselage.
Separating the stub wings from the fuselage. VIA PETER BROWN

The ownership of the aircraft was passed last year to the newly established Blackbushe Heritage Trust. The aircraft’s significance to the Surrey airfield is that it was home to many independent airlines which were Viking operators, among them Hunting-Clan, which was among G-AGRW’s past users.

Constructed as a Viking 1A, the machine originally went to the Ministry of Supply before going to British European Airways during September 1946, bearing the name Vagabond. It was subsequently operated by Autair and Hunting-Clan, prior to being retired in early 1968. The aircraft’s final flight was to Soesterberg air base in the Netherlands, where it was grounded, going on to become one of three Vikings converted into the nearby Avio Resto restaurant. Upon the death of the proprietor, G-AGRW went via Germany to Austria, being displayed on the Vienna Airport viewing deck until 1999. Then it was moved to the McDonald’s, being painted in Austrian Airlines colours.

The team from RPM Aviation, which has taken the technical lead in the Viking's repatriation.
The team from RPM Aviation, which has taken the technical lead in the Viking's repatriation. VIA PETER BROWN

More than £30,000 has been raised by the Blackbushe Heritage Trust towards the Viking’s repatriation to its former home, not least £20,000 from British Airways. The trust’s plans for the future include a dedicated space to tell the story of the airport, and a display featuring a large collection of historical items.

The Viking's fuselage ready to roll at Bad Vöslau.
The Viking's fuselage ready to roll at Bad Vöslau. VIA PETER BROWN