Episode 1

Beginning with the early years of passenger air travel, the episode begins with a heart-warming look at the first companies and passengers that braved open cockpits, wicker chairs and no onboard toilets as Britain emerged from WW1 and found itself at the forefront of an exciting new industry. The episode heads skywards as it charts the rapid pace of technological change, visiting the world’s first passenger terminal at Croydon Airport before several separate small airlines were brought under government control in 1938 and merged into the British Overseas Air Corporation.

We uncover the secret flights made by the newly formed boac mosquitos to smuggle ball bearings from neutral Sweden before the advent of the jet age in the 1950’s, a cause for celebration and sadness as several jet planes were tragically lost as the new technology was found to be critically flawed.

 In an exclusive interview, pilot Ian Frow reveals what life was like flying at the cutting edge.

Episode 1 concludes with one of the darkest chapters in civil aviation as the innocent and glamourous world of flight was shattered by international terrorism. We hear from passengers and staff (some of whom have never spoken before) as well as journalist Martin Bell as they tell the story of the 1970 hijacking at Dawson’s field in Jordan, coupled with incredible archive, we re-live this shocking but little-known episode in British aviation history.

british airways 100 years in the sky