The Magic of Aviation: Re-Connecting with my BOAC Boeing 707

In 1971, I flew on a British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) Boeing 707 from the Middle East to Hong Kong. This flight left a lasting impression on me, and it was an unforgettable experience. Little did I know that 53 years later, I’d reconnect with this plane at the National Museum of Flight in Scotland today.

a picnic tables outside a building

I had already notched up more flights than the average child of the 1960s. Having spent my childhood in Australia, Africa, The Middle East, and the UK, we criss-crossed continents by ship, plane, and train, hence my multiple flight experiences. In July 1971, we headed out for a 7,736-kilometre (4,806-mile) flight to Hong Kong.

I remember sitting by the window in the first row of economy, watching the clouds roll by, excited by the adventure of air travel. I was part of the BOAC Junior Jet Club, which meant that the crew filled out our logbook, which was signed by the captain. This is why I know the exact date and the model and registration number of the plane I flew on.

The British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) established their Junior Jet Club in 1953. It was designed to make air travel more engaging for young passengers. The jet age was still on the horizon when the BOAC Junior Jet Club was launched in 1953, and the word “jet” in its name was a deliberate marketing ploy. BOAC aimed to capture the imagination and excitement surrounding the new era of aviation, even before jets became commonplace in commercial flight.

The highlight of that trip was the approach to Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong. I had a spectacular view from my seat, watching as the plane descended through the cityscape and over the mountains. I have never forgotten how the aircraft seemed to weave between buildings and lines of washing before aligning with a runway that extended into the water. It was thrilling.

a close-up of a white box

The aircraft I flew on in 1971 was a Boeing 707 known as “Alpha Juliet,” or G-APFJ. She had a fascinating history, built in 1960 and serving with BOAC for a decade. In November, 1971, she was leased to Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA), where she flew until April 1975. She then returned to what had become British Airways after the 1974 merger with British European Airways (BEA).

a informational sign with information and information

Alpha Juliet continued to operate with British Airways and its subsidiary British Airtours until she was retired and put on display at the Cosford Aerospace Museum as part of the British Airways collection. Sadly, when that collection was dissolved, a combination of corrosion and high transport costs meant that the last surviving Conway-powered 707 couldn’t be entirely saved. The plane was broken up on site in 2006, leaving only a section of the fuselage intact.

That fuselage section reached the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune, Scotland. There, Alpha Juliet was repainted in her classic BOAC livery, and exhibits inside told her story.

This remarkable aircraft now stands in Hangar 4, next to the Concorde, which is the original reason why I visited the museum!

Visiting the museum was like stepping back in time for me. Sitting beside and inside the same aircraft I flew on as a child felt surreal, especially since it’s the last surviving Conway-powered Boeing 707. Seeing Alpha Juliet repainted in the classic BOAC colours brought back so many memories.

IThe museum staff were thrilled to meet someone with a personal connection to one of their star exhibits. We worked out where my seat was on the plane and took a photo of the spot. The original seats are long gone and replaced with benches.

I had a wonderful time in Hong Kong and celebrated my birthday with a cake from Maxim’s! I fell in love with Hong Kong—it was the perfect place to spend a childhood birthday. Since then, I’ve returned several times and enjoyed everything from the delicious food to the vibrant street life, the energy, and the fascinating culture of this city.

For my birthday, my parents gave me a model of a Boeing 747. It was special because it was my first time flying on a real 747, and I was thrilled to be taking off from Hong Kong. Our journey continued as Pan Am flew us to Sydney, Australia.


Reuniting with Alpha Juliet at the museum was an emotional experience for me. This visit also highlighted the importance of preserving aviation history. By keeping these aircraft and their stories alive, we can inspire future generations and share the magic of early jet travel. I hope that others who visit the National Museum of Flight can share in the sense of wonder and nostalgia that I felt when I stood beside Alpha Juliet.

a man taking a selfie in a hangar

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