Celebrating National Aviation Day

1984 sticker

National Aviation Day falls on the birthday of Orville Wright, who along with his brother Wilbur started it all with their historic powered flight. The inaugural of all inaugurals. President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated it a National Day in 1939 and ever since we have been celebrating all the wonderful aircraft that have graced our skies over the years.

Oddities in our livery

When you think of Virgin Atlantic aircraft, you instantly picture our modern fleet of Airbus A330 and A340 and Boeing 747 and 787 aircraft. But over the years our logo has been painted on a selection of the weird and wonderful aircraft. Here we look back at a few of them.

viscount

Back in the early days, Richard wanted to build a feed of traffic from Europe onto our newly started Newark service. Maastricht was chosen as being central to several countries. This Vickers Viscount was leased from British Air Ferries who supplied the pilots. Our cabin crew provided the service.

G-AZMU was a BAC 1-11 belonging to British Island Airways.

G-AZMU was a BAC 1-11 belonging to British Island Airways.

For a short time we flew a service between Athens and Heathrow using A320 aircraft. This one is G-OUZO

For a short time, we flew a service between Athens and Heathrow using an Airbus A320 aircraft G-OUZO – Spirit of Melina – (shown here) and an A321 G-VATH

This is one of two Boeing 727s of Club Air that had hastily painted tails. They briefly operated services between Luton and Dublin for us in 1988.

Not strictly ours but based on our logo. This DC3 used to do sightseeing trips out of Miami down the Florida Keys. Inspired by us and named after Richard's mum Eve.

Not strictly ours but based on our logo. This DC3 used to do sightseeing trips out of Miami down the Florida Keys. Inspired by us and named after Richard’s mum Eve.

Read all about Vintage Airways

Our brief partnership with CityFlyer saw us fly the BAE146 aircraft between Heathrow and Dublin

Back in 1992 we had a franchise agreement with CityJet flying between London City Airport and Dublin

The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer helped Steve Fossett set four world records. You can see the GlobalFlyer in the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer helped Steve Fossett fly non stop around the world. This can now be found in the Washington Udvar-Hazy museum.

Steve Fossett made four record-setting flights in the Global Flyer. First nonstop solo flight around the world in just over 67 hours (February 28-March 2, 2005). On that trip he also set an around-the-world speed record (551 kilometers/342 miles per hour). The following year he set an absolute distance record, flying from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, around the world and landing in Bournemouth, England, in just under 77 hours travelling 25,766 miles. Finally, he set a closed-course distance record over Salina, Kansas, in 74½ hours (March 14-17, 2006; 40,721 kilometers/25,506 miles).

The all-composite Global Flyer was designed and built by Scaled Composites under the direction of Burt Rutan who also built the Virgin Galactic space ships. The Globalflyer holds 2,915 gallons of fuel which accounts for 83% of its take off weight

We were going to be launch customers for the futuristic aircraft until it was dropped in favour of the 787.

The Boeing Sonic Cruiser! This ambitious project from Boeing was announced at the Paris Air Show in 2001 and we talked to them about being their launch customer. The futuristic aircraft was due to be 15% faster than normal aircraft but that little bit of extra speed came at a big cost in fuel burn. Boeing eventually dropped the project to concentrate on its 7-E-7 programme (the E stood for efficiency) which was to become the incredible 787.

About Dave Gunner

Dave is the co-editor of Ruby, the Virgin Atlantic Blog. He has worked at Virgin Atlantic for over two decades. In that time he has amassed some truly epic memories but never lost his fascination with the airline world. Dave's on a mission to bring you some great insights into our people, planes and planet.
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