Aquila Airways, Southampton Docks
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The Aquila Airways Solent 3, G-AKNU, Sydney taking-off from Funchal.
Aquila Airways was a Southampton, Hampshire based independent British airline, formed on 18 May 1948.
Aquila was founded by Barry Aikman, initially using two converted Royal Air Force Short Sunderland flying boats, ex-British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), for freight work. During the Berlin Airlift a further 10 Sunderland 3s were acquired, and these flew a total of 265 supply missions during 1948/49 from Finkenwerder on the River Elbe to Lake Havel on the outskirts of Berlin.
Operations during 1949/51
Short Sunderland 3 G-AGER “Hadfield” served Aquila Aws from 1948 to 1956. Hamble Beach 1955
After the end of the Berlin Airlift, Aquila hoped to find work for their fleet on worldwide ad-hoc passenger and freight charters, but this type of operation quickly proved not to be forthcoming.
Aquila obtained an association agreement with British European Airways (BEA) under which they were permitted to operate scheduled services from Southampton to Lisbon and Madeira. These flight were supplemented by charter flights to a wide variety of destinations. June 1949 brought a series of Sunderland 3 flights with holidaymakers from Falmouth, Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly. Other 1949 charters included seamen from Aden to the UK and from Hull to Helsinki.
The popular Madeira service continued in 1950/51 and was joined by a Southampton to Jersey service from 7 July 1950, which used St Aubins Bay to land its passengers. Charter flights for shipping firms were also carried out.
Aquila Airways Short Solent 4 G-ANAJ “City of Funchal” at Berth 50, Southampton Docks in 1955
In 1952 Short Solent’s were acquired second hand. The airline continued to operate schedules to Madeira and the Canary Islands with the newly acquired aircraft.
In 1954 the British Aviation Services Group took control of Aquila Airways, the last commercial flying boat operator in the United Kingdom.
During the later 1950s, Aquila Airways faced increasing competition from land based aircraft and being unable to obtain replacement flying boats (offers to purchase the prototype Princess flying boats having been rebuffed), the company ceased operations in 1958. This left TEAL as the only long range flying boat passenger airline.
- Short Sandringham I
- Short Solent 2
- Short Solent 3
- Short Solent 4
- Short Sunderland 3
Incidents and accidents
Sunderland 3 ‘Hythe’ class G-AGKY damaged during take off and subsequently capsized and sank at Calshot on 28 January 1953. No injuries.
Short Solent G-AKNU crashed into Chessel Down, Isle of Wight on 15 November 1957, killing 45 out of the 58 on board.
SOUTHAMPTON FLYING BOAT SERVICES 1919 – 1958