I remember a couple of trips to LHR
at quite an early age that really sparked my interest in aviation, but this is the earliest, and the main one that did for me:
When I was about 7 or 8, one of my older cousins was heading off to visit our family in the US for the first time. At the time, they were living in Columbia, South Carolina, so the first leg of his journey had him flying LHR
on a PanAm 747. His departure turned into quite a family event, and a whole load of us headed to the airport to see him off. Back then (around 1973/4), Terminal 3 at LHR
was a very different place. It seemed a lot more spacious and light than it does today, you could even look down from the upper departure floor at the check-in areas on the ground floor below. There were large airline logos all along one wall depicting the numerous airlines that used T3
- it all seemed so exotic! I remember being fascinated by the whole check-in process, being curious as to what happened to his suitcase once it had been taken away and wondering what on earth was going on on the other side of the magic portal that only my cousin was allowed to pass through!
Once all the waving was over, we all headed off to the viewing terrace on the roof of the Queen's Building and waited for his flight to depart. I was transfixed by all the screaming jets that were taxiing all around us then roaring into the sky. I started to imagine where they might be going, and what those places might be like. I knew right then that I wanted to be on one of those brightly-coloured metal birds to see what it was like. Eventually the PA 747 came into view and we all waved like mad as it roared down the runway and lumbered into the sunny afternoon sky. It seemed to hang there for ages, but eventually it was just a smudge against the blue, so we all started to head home. I really didn't want to leave, I wanted to stay there watching the planes and taking in all the sights, sounds and smells.
I went back many, many, MANY times after that!
Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb