BOAC and How It All Began for Me

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Written by Shea Oakley

 

On June 15th, 1968 my parents boarded a BOAC Super VC-10 for a trip from Kennedy International to Bermuda. I was with them, and four months old at the time. The aircraft registration was G-ASGJ, the same airplane that appears briefly in this old commercial (along with the bulkhead-mounted BOAC bassinet in which they kept me throughout the two-hour flight to “BDA”)

You might be wondering how I know the exact ship which was involved in jetting us to that charming British isle nearly 50 years ago. The answer comes in the form of a little tan package offered to my father on board the flight. Inside it was a small set of metal wings, a description of the Super VC-10 and, most important of all, a slim 4 X 6 inch hard cover booklet. It was Navy Blue with gold lettering on the cover which read “BOAC JUNIOR JET CLUB LOG BOOK.” My dad filled out our contact information on the inside of that cover under my name and handed it to the stewardess. She then conveyed it to the “flight deck” (the VC-10 was far too regal an aircraft to describe that area as a “cockpit”) where the captain filled in a horizontal line of 6 small boxes describing details of the flight. In the 7th box he signed his name.

My father had no way of knowing it at the time, but by taking that package on an early summer day in 1968 he was launching his son’s lifelong love affair with commercial aviation.

Once I was old enough to hand my little log book to the flight attendant myself I was often invited up to the cockpit of whatever airliner we happened to be flying to present it to the captain personally. You might imagine what that meant to young boy. I was hooked very early on (as attested by a Polaroid I still have showing me at 22 months old holding a friction-powered toy Eastern 727 model high above our pantry floor.)

I went through four of those BOAC, and later British Airways, log books through age 16 and then shifted to a generic passenger log book when I felt I was no longer a “junior” anything. I still maintain one in fact. This means I have logged virtually every commercial flight I’ve been on in the past half-century. These books are probably my most cherished physical possessions. I don’t mind admitting that I keep them in a fireproof box at home.

Today I am a trained aviation manager and the director of an aviation museum. I’m deeply involved in the airline/airliner enthusiast community as well. Commercial flight, and everything it encompasses, has become both a passion and a vocation for me. I literally thank God that my dad (who passed away in 2005) thought the Junior Jet Club might be something neat in which to involve his infant son.

In my life since that day, at least as far as aviation goes, it has made all the difference.

(First published on NYCaviation.com)

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Comments (3)

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    Chris Bidlack

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    Great story, Shea. You’re very lucky. I have no log books, and very little in the way of memories of the aircraft on which I fly as a young kid. Before I was born in 1956, my older brother and sister flew on a Northwest Airlines flight, and I do have the 1952 NWA “Souvenir Flight Packet” my mom saved from their flight. On the cover she wrote, “From our first plane ride — WR [Willow Run] to Chicago — the kids & I.”

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    Brendan Murphy

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    I recently inherited a large collection of airline timetables from my brother-in-law. He was 56. Like you, he had a passion for airlines from a very early age. My wife (his sister) would like to find a good home for these timetables he collected. There are hundreds of them – mostly from major airlines like USAir, Piedmont, Braniff, American, United, Northwest, Canadian, Canadair, Continental, Republic, Northwest Orient, Frontier, Delta, TWA, & on and on. The dates are mostly 1970’s Through early 2000’s. I have not catalogued them all yet. My question to you is, do you know anyone in the Washington/Baltimore area that would like them. We want to find a person who will appreciate them. We will sell them for well below what they might fetch if we can find someone who can enjoy all the effort that was put into collecting them.

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    irving Lew

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    Love your article of true passion for airliners, Shea! I too fell in love with commercial jet aircraft early, though never became a pilot or worked for an airline. My dream job would be a structural stress engineer for Boeing Seattle, instead of working on the F-18, as I still do.
    I was never affluent enough to fly regularly, but now I suddenly have model airliners everywhere in the house, collecting an example of every equipment I’ve flown, beginning 2016.
    Show a snapshot of your logs and logbook!

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