Northrop Grumman’s Final Mission in the BAC 1-11


Northrop Grumman retired their last British Aerospace Corporation (BAC) One-Eleven (1-11) Testbed as well as the last flying example of a BAC 1-11 in the world on May 6th, 2019.

Takeoff on Runway 28 occurred shortly after 1:30 PM. Two hours later, “Scan Six Four” called final for a return to BWI Marshall Airport’s Runway 33L. Baltimore Tower approved a low approach. The power came up and the Rolls Royce Spey engines spewed black smoke in dramatic fashion. The landing gear was raised and a level flyby into a climb was executed before re-entering the pattern for landing, completing the final chapter of the BAC 1-11 in aviation history.

I have been fortunate to work at this airport for many years and have taken many pictures of Northrop Grumman’s aircraft. At one time, they had three BAC 1-11s, the last three of the type left in the world. Slowly, quietly, they were retired. Through the years there were differing noses, external bulges and even a bomb-looking pod carried underneath. When one would be out of sight for a while, I would look it over closely upon return for any interesting external changes. I have pictures of all three including chase planes that would occasionally fly with them. They did not fly on a public or regular schedule and were difficult to track. I was either in the right place at the right time or anticipating that they would return shortly after seeing or hearing a departure. They were quite loud on takeoff and could get your attention when you weren’t looking for them.

Northrop Grumman is moving to second hand Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) 700 aircraft as their testbeds. The previous generation of aircraft were acquired by Westinghouse Electric Corporation and featured a W in most of their tail numbers.

I have not seen any chase planes with the CRJs and both Sabreliners are also retired. The bare aluminum Sabreliner with the F-16 nose was my personal favorite and will be moved to the nearby National Electronics Museum soon.

N164W was a 1966 BAC 1-11/401, originally owned by American Airlines and acquired by Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1983. I was told that this aircraft will remain on premises as a ground testbed.

N162W was also a 1966 BAC 1-11/401, purchased by American Airlines, to Dan-Air London, British Midland Airways, back to Dan-Air, Florida Express and to Westinghouse in 1989. It remains parked on the Northrop Grumman ramp for parts and will most likely be scrapped there.

N161NG was the last acquired and ended up with an NG tailcode. It was also a 1966 BAC 1-11/401 originally from American Airlines, to National Aircraft Leasing, Ghaith Pharaon-Saudi Research and Development Corporation, Hemmeter Investment Corp, American Continental Corp, Citizen National Bank, HT 109 Inc, Jack Prewitt and Associates, Calumet Inc, Southwest Jet, and finally to Northrop Grumman in 2001. This was also the first BAC to be retired from Northrop Grumman in 2011.

There was a brief celebration on the Northrop Grumman ramp that I was not able to attend. The BAC entered the ramp under a Fire Department water arch salute and current and former aircrew took pictures with the aircraft with other employees a short distance away.

I am happy to have witnessed and experienced this historical aircraft over many years and feel privileged to have been there at the end.

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