This is my personal story of a plane I saw as a kid, a plane that I saw crashing when I was twenty and that I've just build in miniature as middle aged man ;-)
‘The Shed’, ‘The Flying Shoebox’, ‘The cornflakes box with wings’ and the most affectionate nickname is 'Mini Jumbo'. The Short Skyvan is a 19-seat twin-turboprop aircraft manufactured by Short Brothers of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is used mainly for short-haul freight and skydiving. A total of 153 Skyvans (plus the prototype) was produced before production ended in 1986. Skyvans continue to be popular for air-to-air photography and for skydiving operations.
Recently this photo appeared of G-AXLB in flight above the factories of Short Brothers Plc. Because newly delivered aircraft often make only two test flights before they are registered in the country of the new owner (one factory test flight in which systems will be checked and one acceptance flight with technical pilots of the customer), the chances are large that this photo depicts the first flight of Short SC-7 Skyvan Mk.III, Serial Number: SH1869 on August 13, 1969.
As a 10 year old boy my parents and I visited the island of Rhodes. It was in the fall of 1984. My mom took this picture when our Transavia 737 came in for the return flight to Amsterdam. Despite my young age I was fascinated by aviation and the ‘shoebox’ Skyvan in the foreground made me curious.
I met again with this particular aircraft, serial number SH1869, during my years as glider pilot at the airstrip in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands. As OE-FDI and owned by Pink Aviation it attained the skydive event 'Pink Boogie' in 1996. In fact; I was eyewitness to the end of SH1869 on June 16, 1996 when it had to make a dead stick landing in a potato field just outside the premises of the airfield with dry tanks. A result of clumsy fuel calculations.
ASN Aircraft accident Shorts SC.7 Skyvan 3-400 OE-FDI Hoogeveen
The damage was minor, but the old airframe was a total loss. The usable parts were sold. Actually, only the engines represented some value. The fuselage went to a dump store in the city of Leeuwarden. It was spotted again in 2004 in the city of Assen and every trace of it is missing ever since.
Enough reason for me to build this intriguing aircraft. I opted for the livery as I have seen it at Rhodes back in 1984. A fellow builder of the Netherlands recreated the decals for this project and they were printed by Fireball Modelworks.
Not much is known about the details of the Olympic period, but from photo studies one can see that the livery of the two aircraft varied a lot over the years. The painting was initially all white with a straight dark blue cheatline and no naming on the nose. This is also the livery of the nice and aged Airfix kit. Somewhere in the seventies the livery changed to a aluminium dope belly, a curved dark blue cheatline and stylized Greek letters on the nose. On one side the words were in English and on the other side in Greek. To make things even more complicated; they switched the Greek and English titles a few times from one side to another….
SX-BBN ‘'Isle of Mykonos' and sistership SX-BBO 'Isle of Skiathos' were the only Skyvan’s operated by Olympic Aviation, a subsidiary of the famous Olympic Airways from the Onassis era. Both aircraft were purchased factory new in 1970 and went out of Olympic service in 1990. The other Skyvan is still active as 9Q-CLD for MALU Aviation in Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Short SC-7 Skyvan Mk.III
Serial number: SH1869
Augustus 13 1969 - G-AXLB – first flight – Short Brothers Plc.
May 28 1970 - SX-BBN - Olympic Aviation ‘Isle of Mykonos’
June 1990 – SX-BBN – Air Forum ‘ICARUS’ (business never started)
May 1993 - OE-FDI - Pink Aviation Services
June 16th 1996 – crash landing near Hoogeveen, the Netherlands
There are no interior photos available from the Olympic era, so the exact application of the seat colours requires some imagination. Yet there are some clues; as there is the semi-erotic (dull) movie "Summer Lovers" with fantastic aerial shots of Skyvan SX-BBN in which the main characters arrive at the Island of Santorini. There are also fragments of the interior (white side walls, blue seats) and tourists who disembark via the cargo hatch.
On a Greek model forum some people who have flown with the Skyvan discuss about gray seats and a black non-slip floor. Another one recalls the use of mustard yellow seats. Who can tell… for some contrast in the model it is a pity that they most likely didn’t apply red/orange seats (as in the Olympic Short 330). According the ‘TLAR’ (That Looks About Right) principle; I decided to paint the seats light blue with mustard yellow headrest covers for some distinctive contrast through the small windows. By the way; the windows of the kit are very thick, so I made new thinner windows from a transparent sheet.
I hope you like it!