“To Fly To Serve Ma’am” British Airways Crew Celebrate The Queen Becoming The Longest Serving British Monarch
British Airways pilots, cabin crew and ground staff – past and present – who have had the honour of flying the Queen came together at Heathrow Airport in London to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen becoming Britain’s longest reigning Monarch on September 9.
Wearing the uniforms they would have worn when they flew with The Queen, 30 crew gathered at Terminal 5 yesterday (Wednesday, September 2) to raise a flag in honour of Her Majesty reaching this historical milestone.
Bob Godfrey, 79, a retired chief steward, who was pictured in 1972 greeting The Queen as she stepped off a flight from Heathrow to Turkey, said: “I had the honour of serving Her Majesty on two separate flights; once in 1972 and again in1990. We all felt so proud when we boarded the aircraft and couldn’t believe our Queen would shortly be coming on board.”
Patricia Pearce MBE, who joined BOAC (British Airways’ long-haul predecessor) in 1952 – a year before Elizabeth II was crowned – and served The Queen on her scheduled two-week Royal visit to New Zealand in 1974, said: “The trip ended up lasting almost two months because the Heath government was brought down in the middle of the trip so the Royal couple had to come back to the UK and then fly back out again. I will always remember standing on the tarmac at Honolulu late at night as the plane taxied round the corner with the Royal Standard flying out the top of the aircraft.”
Jane Ainley, 47, long-haul cabin crew, who served The Queen on the flight home from Perth following her state visit to Australia in 2011 said: “I was thrilled to be asked to serve on a Royal flight from Perth to London which was the first non-stop flight between Australia and the UK. My father also had the honour of carrying The Queen on a flight from Heathrow to Vancouver back in 1963 so I felt rather emotional when I was given the opportunity to follow in his footsteps!”
British Airways has also released photographs from its Speedbird Heritage Centre, including the first telegram sent to Her Royal Highness as Queen.
On January 31, 1952, British Airways’ predecessor, BOAC, flew Her Royal Highness, the Princess Elizabeth to East Africa on the first stage of a Commonwealth tour. A week later, following the death of her father His Majesty King George VI, she was flown back on a BOAC Argonaut as Queen Elizabeth II.
The British Airways museum has the original telegram received on the flight home from the Queen Mother to her daughter, which read:
To: Her Majesty The Queen
All my thoughts and prayers are with you.
The message was received over the radio, written directly into the Captain’s log-book and then copied out by hand onto a BOAC signal form, before being presented to Her Majesty.
The airline also has a copy of the original flight path plan, which is topped with the image of a crown to depict the flight The Queen returned to the UK on.
The Captain’s original log-book remains in the British Airways Speedbird Heritage Centre which notes that Her Royal Highness, Princess Elizabeth was on board on January 31 and yet the aircraft that returned was carrying the new Queen.