Airplanes above Falkland Islands
On 1 August 2008 a new definitive series on Falkland Islands was released, comprising of twelve new stamps depicting airplanes that flew above the Falkland Islands. Ross Watton designed these nice stamps of Falkland Islands. The postage stamps were printed in stochastic lithography by BDT International.
1p - Taylorcraft Auster MK 5
The Auster aircraft, manufactured in the United Kingdom where the prototype flew in 1938, became the first aircraft type to be operated by the Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS). The idea of introducing an internal air service was the brainchild of the then Governor Sir Miles Clifford in 1947. This idea resulted in two ex Army AOP (Air Observation Post) being purchased from the UK Ministry of Defense. Initially they were operated as landplanes but as a result of the soft airstrips were converted to floatplanes. Following the arrival and shortly after the first test flight of one of the Taylorcraft Auster aircraft in December 1948 a seriously ill child at North Arm required urgent medical attention. This resulted in the very first passenger/medical flight undertaken in the Islands. This epic flight was later made into a documentary by the BBC World service. The Taylorcraft Auster's continued in FIGAS service until 1957.
2p - Boeing 747
The Boeing 747, which first took to the skies in 1969, was then the largest passenger aircraft ever flown. The initial type being 231 ft long with a wingspan of 195 ft, it could carry 500 economy class passengers at a speed of 528 knots and maximum take-off weight was 775,000 lbs. The first 747 to visit the Islands was in May 1985, this aircraft landed at Mount Pleasant Airport shortly after the airport was opened, it was operated by British Airways at the commencement of a year long airbridge contract with the Ministry of Defense. The service was for two flights a week with the aircraft doing a straight turn around at Mount Pleasant Airport and routing from Brize Norton via Ascension Island. This entailed relief crews being based at both Ascension Island and MPA. A further 747 aircraft was introduced onto the Falkland's airbridge during the 1990's but this time being operated by Air Atlanta.
5p - Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter
The Twin Otter aircraft, another very successful type from the De Havilland Canada stable, was introduced by the British Antarctic Survey for supporting their scientific research programs in Antarctica in 1967. This aircraft, which first flew in 1965, had a wheel/ski undercarriage fitted to the BAS aircraft as each year at the beginning of the Antarctic summer season the aircraft were ferried down from Canada or the United Kingdom depending on where the heavy maintenance had been carried out. The return ferry flight took place at the end of the summer usually in March. On arrival at Rothera the BAS principal base on the Antarctic Peninsula the aircraft would have their skis fitted in preparation for operations in the Antarctic. For a number of years BAS operated two Havilland Twin Otters but in 1988 this was increased to a total of four aircraft which is the situation today. In all BAS have owned and operated eight Havilland Twin Otters four of which are still in use.
10p - Lockheed C-130 Hercules
The Hercules aircraft designed by Lockheed in the United States of America was first flown in 1954. This aircraft was first introduced into the RAF service in 1967 and is still serving in one form or another today. RAF Hercules aircraft played a very significant role during the Falkland's War in 1982 carrying out flights between the UK and Ascension Island with equipment and personnel. When the task force headed south the Hercules continued to support them by dropping mail, essential supplies and occasionally personnel. The Hercules fleet flew a total of 13,000 hrs between 2nd April and 14th June 1982. The first RAF Hercules landing in the Falkland Islands occurred on 24th June at Stanley Airport. This wasn't the first Hercules to land at Stanley Airport however, as the Argentines had landed a number of their aircraft there both before and during the War. The RAF continues to operate the Hercules aircraft at MPA.
27p - Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver
Following the successful operation of floatplanes it was decided to continue with them. Given the excellent reputation of the Beaver aircraft, which had been operated successfully in the Canadian lakes and bush country since it was first flown in 1947, this was the aircraft chosen. The Beaver could also carry up to six passengers compared with the Auster's two. The first Beaver arrived and commenced operating with FIGAS in 1953. Throughout the following years FIGAS purchased a total of nine Beaver aircraft although there were never more than two aircraft in service at any one time. Sadly the two FIGAS Beavers in 1982 were destroyed during the hostilities at that time. One replacement Beaver aircraft was then obtained and interestingly although it commenced service as a floatplane it was converted onto wheels and remained with FIGAS until 1985. Beavers provided an excellent service with FIGAS for over thirty years until Islander aircraft replaced them.
55p - Airbus A320
The Airbus A320 aircraft has been operating a weekly service by LAN Chile between Chile (Punta Arenas) and the Falklands (MPA) for a number of years now. This aircraft replaced the Boeing 737, which had commenced the service in the early 1990's. The A320 that first flew in 1987 has two turbofan engines giving it a cruising speed of 490 knots carrying up to 180 passengers. The aircraft has a wingspan of 112 ft and a length of 123 ft. The flight time to Punta Arenas is about one hour and twenty minutes depending of course on the upper wind speeds. The Airbus A320 is now one of the most popular commercial aircraft flying worldwide with sales having reached 3,690.
65p - Lockheed L1011 Tristar
The Tristar entered passenger service in 1972 and the Royal Air Force purchased nine of these aircraft from British Airways and Pan American Airway specifically to provide long range strategic transport to the Falkland Islands at about the time that Mount Pleasant Airport was to become operational. The first Tristar landed at Mount Pleasant during May 1985. The aircraft has a wingspan of 155 ft and a length of 178 ft; three turbofan engines giving it a cruising speed of 512 knots power it. The ex British Airways versions were adapted to be used for either passenger or cargo transportation as well as in-flight refueling whilst the ex Pan Am aircraft were left mainly intact for carrying passengers.
90p - AVRO Vulcan B2
The Vulcan was one of the three V bombers designed specifically as nuclear bombers in the late 1940's, resulting in the first flight of the Vulcan taking place in 1952. Following the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 the RAF squadron's which operated the Vulcan's were placed on standby for possible action in the South Atlantic. In addition to bringing the air crews up to readiness the air to air refueling equipment had to be brought up to operational standard. This all culminated in the Vulcan carrying out the longest successful combat flight in history at that time. It took fifteen Victor tankers and seventeen separate in-flight refueling to get one Vulcan over the target, and give its crew a reasonable chance of coming back alive. The total flight time for the first of seven bombing raids lasted fifteen hours and forty-five minutes. This was the only time throughout its entire service life that the Vulcan ever dropped a bomb in anger. The last Vulcan squadron was disbanded in 1984.
100p - Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander
With the steady increase of demand for FIGAS together with the fact that the Beaver aircraft was no longer in production a committee was formed in 1977 to consider a suitable replacement aircraft. Although this would involve providing airstrips (subsequently forty) at those farm settlements to be served it was agreed that the Islander aircraft with its short take-off/land capabilities and nine passenger seats would be the most suitable type. The UK government was approached for funding which they agreed to provide and the first Islander aircraft was ferried down arriving at Stanley Airport in October 1979. The aircraft very soon proved to be an ideal choice for the Falkland's internal aviation requirements. Sadly however this Islander aircraft suffered the same fate as the two Beavers being written off during the 1982 war. Two replacements Islanders were subsequently provided for FIGAS and Islanders have continued to be the most suitable type for both the internal passenger/freight role and offshore fishery patrol duties. To date FIGAS have operated nine Islander aircraft with five of these still being in use at the present time.
200p - PANAVIA TORNADO F3
The Royal Air Force air defense unit based at Mount Pleasant Airport replaced the Phantom F4 aircraft in 1991 with the Tornado F3 Air Defense Variant. This was as a result of the Phantom being phased out of operational service with the RAF. The Tornado F3 first flew in 1985. The aircraft is powered by two turbofans giving it a maximum speed at 36,000ft of 1,262 knots, the operational ceiling is about 70,000ft and it has a combat radius of 300 nautical miles. The Tornado is armed with a 27 mm Mauser cannon plus four Sky Flash medium range missiles and four Side Winder infra red homing short-range missiles. Four F3's are currently in service in the Falkland Islands but these aircraft will be replaced by the newly developed Eurofighter Typhoon.
300p - Havilland Canada DHC-7-110 Dash 7
To further enhance the British Antarctic Survey's research and scientific role in Antarctica an intercontinental air link was required between Rothera (the principal BAS station on the Antarctic Peninsula) and Stanley. This was achieved following the construction of a gravel runway at Rothera, and the acquisition of a Dash 7 aircraft, thus providing a much faster and efficient method of moving personnel and equipment to and from Antarctica than was the case previously with the use of ships. The Dash 7 aircraft was purchased in the early 1990's and following modifications which included longer range fuel tanks, improved avionics for navigation, a large cargo door and an auxiliary power unit this aircraft made its first flight to Antarctica in January 1994. The first Dash 7 aircraft flew in 1972 and 114 were built. Four turboprop engines giving it a maximum cruising speed of 230 knots with a range of 2321 nautical miles (BAS aircraft) power the aircraft.
500p - BAE Sea Harrier
The Sea Harrier that was developed from the RAF's Harrier GR.Mk.3 first became operational with the Royal Navy in 1980. A single turbofan engine giving it a speed of around 630 knots powers the Sea Harrier. Armament includes 30-mm ADEN cannon and sidewinder missiles. The aircraft can also carry cluster bombs and 1,000lb bombs amongst other ordinance. A total of 28 Sea Harriers were deployed during the Falkland's War and their achievements were to say the least quite phenomenal. The Argentine aircraft shot down in air-to-air combat by the Harrier was confirmed as twenty. No Harriers at all were shot down by Argentine aircraft although they did lose a total of six aircraft to ground defense and other causes. Four Harrier pilots were killed during the War. It was interesting to note that the Sea Harrier was demonstrated to the Argentine Navy some years prior to the Falkland's War. Perhaps it could be said it was fortunate that they did not acquire the aircraft.
Postage stamps in detal
Issue: Falkland Islands, 1 August 2008
Stamp design: Ross Watton
Print: Stochastic Lithography by BDT International
Perforation: 14 per 2cms
Stamp size: 28.45 x 42.58mm
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