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Colours in the Sky (Hardback)

The History of Autair and Court Line Aviation

Aviation

By Graham Simons
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781526725561
Published: 6th August 2018

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It's impossible to tell the story of Court Line without telling that of Autair, founded by helicopter pioneer William 'Bill' Armstrong. Autair itself was an offshoot of his global helicopter operation, but Bill also had his finger in many aviation 'pies' including a multitude of operations in Africa, where so many aircraft and airlines were created, bought and sold with such prolificacy that even he could not remember the names and how many there were! There is also the background to Court Line's shipping concerns and the Caribbean operations of the hotel chains and regional airline Leeward Islands Air Transport which Court owned for a while.

Covered in detail is the introduction, demonstration and use of the Lockheed TriStar wide-bodied airliner, the first of the type used in the Inclusive Tour business.

Court Line Aviation and Tom Gullick's Clarksons Holidays brought to the forefront the concept of value-for-money Inclusive Tour holidays following the 'vertical integration' business model whereby owning and controlling each step of the holiday allowed the company to make a small profit at every stage.

The orange, pink, turquoise and yellow jets brought flashes of colour to dreary British airports, and quickly streamed a multi-coloured rainbow across European skies to Mediterranean destinations and even further afield. This is their story.

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 Graham Simons

About Graham Simons

English professional aviation writer, publisher and historian Graham M Simons is one of the founders of the world famous aviation museum at Duxford near Cambridge where his interest was piqued watching the making of the ‘Battle of Britain’ film there in the late 1960’s and from the days when you could go ‘aircraft spotting’ at London Heathrow and other airports.

From this, and with an engineering background, he progressed to membership of a number of aviation societies, including sitting on the British Aviation Preservation Council, eventually taking the position of Engineering Director with one group. Here he was responsible for overseeing the restoration of a De Havilland DH89 Dragon Rapide airliner to flying condition and placing this aircraft - with official approval — in the colours and markings of the first aircraft of what was then the Kings Flight. It was during this period that he was contacted by Ian Allen Ltd to write the first ever history of this classic De Havilland type.

Other titles rapidly followed and with a growing number of contacts in both the military and airliners, Graham turned professional in 1987, combining his love of writing with his skills in production to create and publish aviation histories focussed on a variety of subjects.

He is the author of Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose, Comet! The World’s First Jet Airliner, The Airbus A380: A History, and De Havilland Enterprises: A History, amongst many others published by Pen and Sword Books.

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