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A civil flight from Mildenhall?

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    A civil flight from Mildenhall?

    My ancestral research has turned up a relative, a 20 year old female on a flight from Mildenhall to Newark, New Jersey. This was in 1962 and the flight number is BKA 36. Would this have been a civil flight or the designation for a military flight? I have been round the world 11.83 times!

    Unless Mildenhall had a civil capacity back then, it was likely a U.S. military contract charter, frequently used for transporting families.
    Newark being the lower cost airport serving New York.
    Last edited by J Boyle; 29th July 2018, 13:28.
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.


      I am sure you are right. My research today shows that BKA belongs to Bankair. There are two Bankair companies, the first had a life from 1965 to 1971. The second company, still in existence, started in 1972 as a cheque or check moving company and has now progressed to a Lear Jet renter. But, my relative flew in 1962 according to her immigration card, so the mystery remains! I have been round the world 11.83 times!


        Further investigation shows that she landed at McGuire AFB, so maybe she was in the services. Just curious what the airline and aircraft would have been! I have been round the world 11.83 times!


          Require was a major east coast terminus for military transport flights.
          A likely place for a contract carrier to fly out of.

          As a child, my mother and siblings flew such a flight, albeit in the opposite e direction, from Travis AFB near San Francisco to Tokyo.
          It was a smaller charter firm and being only 5 didn't make more of the exact type other than knowing it was a DC-4,6,or 7.

          (Even then my aircraft recognition skills were better than some of the recent posters on this forum. Ie. calling a Twin Otter a Norseman or a Skyvan a Mitchell).

          By doing some internet searching, you might come up with a list. I contacted airline historian and magazine publisher John Wegg he set me straight as to details and type, a DC-6.

          My guess is your relative married a American serviceman.
          There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.


            I've been away from my auto 'log-in' computer, so come to this a little late.

            The early 1960s was right at the end of the big-piston airliners and the very start of the jet airliners used under contract to the US Government to carry servicemen and their dependents to/from overseas duty. Douglas DC-6, Douglas DC-7, Lockheed Constellations and Super Constellations were about to give way to Douglas DC-8s and Boeing 707s. Looking through lists for Burtonwood 1957/1958 before the MATS European transatlantic 'air-head' terminal was transferred to Mildenhall in February 1959, the likes of Seaboard & Western, Flying Tiger Line, Slick, Universal Airlines, Overseas National, Transocean Airlines, even Pan Am and TWA all appear. I also recall operators such as Capitol (or was it Capital? - both existed as airlines) and Riddle on US Government/military charter from the same period. Others like Zantop and World I think came along later.

            No problem with her flying as a civilian on a chartered civilian aircraft on US armed forces 'families and dependents' flight. In 1962 more likely a big piston-engine airliner, as the new generation of jets had yet to 'filter-down' to charter operators. Meanwhile in the 1957/58 period the MATS used C-97 Stratofreighters, C-124 Globemaster and early C-133 Cargomasters for transatlantic crossings and C-119 packets and the early C-130 Hercules for European distribution from Burtonwood.

            The 3-letter airline ticketing/flight code has me puzzled, as at the time (1960s) flight numbers all used the IATA 2-letter system, it would be in the late 70s/early 1980s that use of the ICAO 3-letter system became widespread.
            Last edited by viscount; 1st August 2018, 17:45.


              Viscount, good information...if I can add a bit to corroborate your post.
              Yes, you're correct about big props in use. As I mentioned above, when I flew to Japan in 1961 we flew in a DC-6 owned by "Twentieth Century airlines".If one looks very closely you can see mentions of it in various lists of charter lines. It was small, I believe the senior flight attendant on our flight was married to the captain!

              Yes, piston were being relegated to smaller routes and carriers, but remember that the newest DC-6 was built in 1958 and the type would see service on U.S. domestic routes with major carriers for quite some time. For example, United flew them into (circa) 1966 when they were finally replaced by 727s.

              When we returned to the USA in the spring of 1963, it was on a chartered Pan Am 707 flight. Compared to the three day piston flight which required stops in Honolulu and Wake Island, the jet flight seemed like a spaceship. aside from the obvious doors advantage, I recall that unlike the Douglas, the 707 flew so high that you didn't see the waves for hours on end. Sadly, a stop at Wake was no longer required.
              Last edited by J Boyle; 2nd August 2018, 06:14.
              There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.