The story of “Poitou”

Jan 12th, 2013 | By | Category: Lead Article

This was the ninth Caravelle of the second order for 12 by Air France dated 25 July 1958, and thus was Air France № 21 with a contract delivery date of 30 November 1960.

The Caravelle was the 55th in the production sequence, completed as a Type III (Version SE 210 302) with a MGTOW 46t and Rolls-Royce Avon 527 turbojets (later upgraded to Mk.527Bs), a standard referred to as the customer as AF 2.

First flown from Toulouse on 03 November 1960 as F-WHRU, № 58 received its CdN on 09 November, being re-registered F-BHRU, and was delivered to Air France on 10 November 1960; SELCAL: EK-CM, named Poitou. It entered revenue service on 13 November 1960, operating AF762/AF763 ORY-DUS-HAM-DUS-ORY.

Poitou remained in service almost until the end of the Caravelle era with Air France (which came to a close in March 1981), operating its last service on 28 August 1980, AMS-CDG. It was ferried the same day to ORY and retired with 37028 flying hours, 35252 cycles, and 32207 landings in its logbook. De-registered on 26 November 1980, the airframe was scrapped between 13 November and April 1981.

The nose was saved and moved to Centre de Contrôle Régional (CCR), an air traffic control centre at Athis-Mons (on the northeast side of Orly). However, its proposed conversion to a simulator was abandoned because of costs.

By 1994 the nose section had been transferred to La Ferté-Alais and was displayed by Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis, and at one time attached to the side of a hangar. It ‘starred’ in the French movie Belle maman with Catherine Deneuve and Vincent Lindon, and gained a modern Air France logo. (Text: John Wegg)

F-BHRU also played a role in the 1961 movie “Le cave se rebiffe” with Jean Gabin and Martine Carol. Click here for images.

During the restoration process a boarding card marked with with “Lennon” and AF961 was found. Initial doubts whether this could really be John Lennon’s boarding pass were quickly cleared up when a photo was found showing The Beatles climbing on board F-BHRU “Poitou”. They used the aircraft for a flight from Manchester to Paris in June 1964 (AF961). The card remained between the cockpit and the galley wall for almost 50 years and is still in good condition.



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