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G-ALZO Airspeed A.S.57 Ambassador 2 c/n 5226 - DAN-AIR LONDON - London Gatwick Airport, UK - July 1970 London Gatwick Airport (LGW)

In 1943, the British government formed a committee under the chairmanship of Lord Brabazon of Tara to identify post-war civil aviation requirements. The Ambassador was one of the results of the Brabazon Committee's Type IIA requirement for a twin-engined, unpressurised design in the 14.5 tonnes gross weight class, short to medium-range airliner for European routes. By the time the British Ministry of Aircraft production ordered two prototypes from Airspeed Ltd., immediately after the end of the World War II, the design had grown substantially. The Ambassador would be pressurised and have a maximum gross weight of almost 24 tonnes, offering seating for 47 passengers. The prototype (G-AGUA) powered by two 2.600 hp Centaurus 631 radials was first flown on 10 July 1947. The second prototype (G-AKRD) flew on 26 August 1948; two static-test airframes were built, followed by one pre-production Ambassador (G-ALFR) which was used to obtain the C.of A. and for route proving by BEA - British European Airways. Airspeed AS57 Ambassador G-ALFR had the definitive Centaurus 661 powerplant, and was flown first in May 1950. British European Airways ordered 20 Ambassador 2s. On 13 March 1952, the first service London-Paris was inaugurated. BEA called its Ambassadors fleet "Elizabethans", in honour of perhaps the most famous period in British history, the Elizabethan era. A popular name for the Ambassadors derieved from Elizathans became "Lizzies". Only 23 Airspeed Ambassadors are built.

On 5 April 1950, before the plane was built, Airspeed AS57 Ambassador 2 s/n 5226 was registered G-ALZO with BEA - British European Airways. On 25 November 1952, Airspeed AS57 Ambassador 2 G-ALZO was delivered to BEA, who named it RMA (Royal Mail Aircraft) 'Christopher Marlowe'. Within a year, the G-ALZO made a belly landing at Blackbushe airport on a crew training flight when the undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft slid about 650 meters over the runway during the belly landing. No one was hurt but the Ambassador was severely damaged. The wreck was returned to the BEA engineering base by road and after almost a year under repair by BEA engeneering the aircraft returned to the air. The G-ALZO remained in service with BEA until June 1958, when it was stored at Cambridge airport awaiting disposal. In May 1959, the G-ALZO was sold and on 5 May 1960, the Ambassador joined the Royal Jordanian Air Force as 108. Airspeed AS57 Ambassador 2 '108' was based at Amman and used on VIP and transport flights. When Jordan wanted to modernize its VIP fleet, the choice fell on the Handley Page Herald. Part of the deal with Handley Page was that the Airspeed AS57 Ambassadors in service with the Royal Jordanian Air Force were exchanged when purchasing the new Heralds. On 1 February 1963, Airspeed AS57 Ambassador 2 G-ALZO was restored to the UK register with Handley Page. On 6 February 1963, the aircraft was purchased by Dan-Air and on 26 February 1960, registered with Dan-Air Services, London. As Dan-Air used the aircraft to carry both passengers and freight the G-ALZO was fitted with a rear fuselage cargo door by Marshall of Cambridge. On 3 October 1971, the G-ALZO flew its last commercial service and was than stored and preserved at Lasham, where it ended in bad condition. On 10 September 1981, registration G-ALZO was cancelled as PWFU. In 1986, the airframe was donated to the British Airliner Collection and transported by road to Duxford. In April 2013, after long-term restoration at Duxford, the G-ALZO was rolled out and joined the other airliners in the British Airliner Collection.
In July 1970, Airspeed A.S.57 Ambassador G-ALZO was seen at London Gatwick Airport in the UK in service with Dan-Air London.

page last updated: 20-05-2021
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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