A rare example of the passenger aircraft that is synonymous with early jet air travel in the UAE made its final journey when it arrived in Sharjah this month.
The front section of a Vickers VC10, fondly nicknamed ‘The Queen of the Skies’, recently arrived from the UK by boat before being driven through the mountains from Khor Fakkan to Sharjah Al Mahatta Aviation Museum.
There it is being added to the permanent exhibits for the UAE community to gain unique access to the cockpit, cabin and cargo hold of a plane that regularly touched down in what is now the UAE and throughout the Gulf in the 1960s and 70s.
The aircraft will be a lasting example of a great airliner known for its ability to operate in hot climates. Only 44 models of the British-made VC10 were ever built, despite it being second only to Concorde in the time taken to cross the Atlantic by a jet airliner.
Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Department, said: “We are honoured to be bringing this icon of air travel to Sharjah for people of all ages, and especially aviation enthusiasts, to enjoy.
“The arrival of the VC10 adds another chapter to the story of aviation in the UAE, and in particular Sharjah, from where the first commercial landing took place in October 1932 at Al Mahatta Airport.
“SMD would like to extend a special thanks to His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, for his foresight and generosity in ensuring that this historic aircraft was transported all the way from the UK to its permanent place at Al Mahatta Museum.”
The section of aircraft to go on display in Sharjah is from a Super VC10. It was built for East African Airways Corporation in 1969 and registered as 5X-UVJ. It flew on routes taking in London, Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, and Kampala.
In 1979 it was sold to Britain’s Royal Air Force to be converted into a flight re-fuelling tanker and for a further 28 years it operated mainly out of RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. Huge fuel tanks in its cabin replaced the rows of passenger seats. In March 2013 it flew its last flight into Bruntingthorpe Airfield in Leicester to be ‘struck off charge’ and taken out of service.
And now the aircraft has completed the last leg of its distinguished service. The front 40 feet of the aircraft was loaded on a cargo boat in the UK and shipped to the port city of Khor Fakkan, where it arrived in early May. There, it was mounted onto a truck to continue its journey westwards over the Hajar mountain ranges of central UAE until it arrived at the aircraft hangar at Al Mahatta Aviation Museum.
Al Mahatta Aviation Museum is considered to be the first airport in the UAE, which was built in 1932 as a staging post for commercial flights en route from Britain to India. It was converted into a museum in 1999/2000 to tell the story of the history of flight in the UAE and the region.
About the Sharjah Museums Department
The Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) was established in 2006 by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, as an independent government department.
SMD includes 16 museums covering Islamic art and culture, archaeology, heritage, science, marine life and the history of Sharjah and the region.
To be a cultural beacon that enhances Sharjah’ s identity locally and internationally and contribute in nurturing a community aware of museums’ importance as a cultural, educational and enjoyable destination.
Deliver the highest museum standards to preserve collections & enhance an appreciation of culture and learning through our exhibitions, educational and community programs.