Island News

Chapter Eleven: The Jet Age

In June 1976 on a Saturday at 7am, Air Pacific’s scheduled BAC 1-11 service departed Nausori airport to fly to Auckland, New Zealand via Tonga with a brand new colour
05 Aug 2012 12:36

In June 1976 on a Saturday at 7am, Air Pacific’s scheduled BAC 1-11 service departed Nausori airport to fly to Auckland, New Zealand via Tonga with a brand new colour scheme.
It was the first time the company had a total corporate identity.
Earlier in the year, the company’s image committee had deliberated on proposals from two different advertising companies.
The one preferred had four colours which were from a study done on the most common colours of the islands served by Air Pacific.
The presentation to the Air Pacific Board (21 members) in May told in 3×3 minute-segments the origin of the colours. The first segment showed the route structure of all the islands flown to including Australia and New Zealand.
The second segment dealt with the environment, flowers, the ocean, reef shallows with all the coloured fish, sunsets, and sunrises.
The last segment pulled the four colours out.
The ‘BLUE’ from the sea, in fact it was taken from an aerial shot of the sea around Beachcomber Island.
The ‘RED’ from the hibiscus flower, which is throughout the islands.
The ‘ORANGE’ from a sunrise and finally the ‘YELLOW’ from a beautiful tropical sunset.
The colours were made solid and on the fin within the curl of the four colours a small island was included with a palm and a bird.
Unfortunately the ‘island and palm’ were too close to Polynesian Airlines logo and had to be dropped, in its place the ‘Sailfish’ returned.
The theme ‘Your Island in the Sky’ would remain, however, and was to be used on all advertising.
The words ‘AIR PACIFIC’ were especially given an informal style to suit the island image.
The Board unanimously approved the colour scheme which flowed over to tickets, ground equipment, cabin services – where it included an interior theme for the aircraft.
The BAC 1-11, HS 748 and Trislanders were soon all painted in the new colours.
BAC 1-11 DQ-FBV – return inaugural flight FJ706. In-flight Noumea-Nadi, Friday July 4, 1975. Service departed from Suva-Nadi-Noumea-Brisbane and returned via Noumea to Nadi then Suva.
Captain Seymour speaking, at row 8, I say “over, over”. Toberua Island Resort band joined the inaugural flight out of Brisbane.
Guests and revenue passengers enjoyed onboard island entertainment; ‘tui boto’ did do an about turn at row 8 and returned to the rear of the cabin.
On the day, a certain captain borrowed a Southern Comfort Tee-shirt from an attractive young lady who was on the flight deck. His appearance in the cabin wearing the Tee-shirt had Reg Warren, the ARB inspector, and a number of passengers wanting to know what the young lady was or was not wearing up front.
It was such a good day that at Nadi on departure for Suva a passenger could not be found.
The flight, very late, was informed after take-off that the Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation was found at another airline’s function.
He returned to Suva the next day. Photo: NITIN LAL
The repainted of DQ-FCR on arrival from Europe saw a variation tried.
The ‘BLUE’ which normally filled in the fin at the back of the ‘Sailfish’ and rudder was left off.
The idea was fortunately dropped and the regular paint job done to finish the colour scheme. DQ-FCR was used regularly nonstop between Nadi-Brisbane.
This aircraft could cruise higher and faster than the BAC 1-11’s in the fleet.
Its higher wheel loading placed restrictions on other island fields.

The first and only occasion that the BAC 1-11 visited Rotuma. The company operated a ‘proving flight’ to the Northern group of islands, to check runway and other facilities, in case there was a need for a service. The runway length of around 2500ft would have severely restricted the passenger and cargo uplifts. The BAC 1-11 proved its flexibility at the time.

DQ-FCR – Final resting place behind the Nausori maintenance hangar. Photographed on August 22, 1986.
The corroded tail plane spar, which grounded the aircraft, is in the tail plane assembly in the foreground.
The cost to replace the spar or whole tail-plane was considered uneconomical. It was, however, in the end as a bridge.
The aircraft was stripped off parts which were sold overseas. The hull to be used for fire practice. A sad ending. Its service life ended September 8, 1981 after only three years with Air Pacific.

This photo taken in Brisbane shows the colour scheme at its best. The bright colours reflecting the Pacific Islands.
Brisbane departures were around 9am. For a period, a crew was based in Brisbane and were accommodated in Suva at the Grand Pacific Hotel.
A story is told of a meal order by the captain from Nadi to the hotel for a steam boat for five as they were running late. On arrival at the GPH for dinner they were presented with a steamed goat.

The normal crew configuration was three on regional flights. The extra person may be being checked out or off another aircraft.
This uniform in 1981, was the first accepted design by Tiki Togs. A later uniform design, also by Tiki Togs, was introduced in 1983 for the introduction of the DC10 operations to Hawaii.

The marketing people re-arranged the colours vertically and this photograph shows the result. The effect was spectacular and the aircraft stood out wherever it went.
The colour scheme change had been necessary to accommodate the introduction of the DC-10 in September 1983.

Guess what service this aircraft is operating? The beer suggests New Zealand.
The uniform, a paisley design in gold and blue, was the second uniform with the same basic design, after the blue slacks and blue floral top.

Vila was an important first stop from Nadi on the way to Honiara, then Australia or Port Moresby.
Vila was later to be a stop-over on the Nadi-Vila-Brisbane return service.
Like most of the services through the Solomons or New Hebrides (Vanuatu) the aspirations of their own national airlines soon forced Air Pacific back or out of the area.
Air Vanuatu and Solomon Airlines both have rights to Nadi.

Mrs Gandhi had come to Fiji from Australia in October 1981 after attending the Commonwealth heads of Government meeting. Her Air India B707 remained at Nadi while she visited Suva and Nuku’alofa. A special bulkhead was fitted to the front cabin to make a VIP compartment for her travel.

Although Air Pacific had moved into the jet age there was still a place for turbo prop aircraft including the Bandeirante for domestic operations. Stay tuned for Chapter 12 next Sunday.

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