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Donal Goggin of  Ballinskelligs in County Kerry, Republic of Ireland
shares his memories of S-25 Sandringham VP-LVE from 1976/77.
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It has been nearly 45 years since Donal Goggin had the opportunity to crew the last flying boat in commercial service. It may have been a long time ago but he still has fond memories from the summer of 1977.

Donal's crew position was that of  "bowman".  The bowman had little duty on take-off and during flight but immediately upon landing his role became very important. "Southern Cross"  was a Shorts Sandringham with a wing span of 112 feet and length of  86 feet . The gross weight of this 4 engine flying boat was 60,000 lbs. Unlike land base aircraft, the pilot can't apply the brakes upon landing. The bowman needed to assist with slowing the flying boat down by dropping the appropriate drogue /sea anchors from the marine locker in the nose of the aircraft.  

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The marine locker also included an array of equipment from  Danforth anchors, boat hooks and boat dock lines & ropes. Over the summer of 1977, Donal used all the equipment to complete his duties as bowman.

Antilles Air Boats had grand plans for the two Short S.25's purchased from Ansett Flying Boat Service in 1974 but without FAA certification the aircraft could not operate within the United States. They could operate from the U.S. V.I. but only to foreign locations. They were utilized as a "Flying Boat Cruise"  to those locations during the winter months and looked for another opportunity during the summers. The Blair's would spend time in Ireland each summer so why not bring "Southern Cross" back to  the island where it all started.  Charlie Blair returned to Foynes, Ireland with a flying boat in 1976, nearly thirty years since his last stopover.

Donal Goggin was there to see that arrival and wanted to get up close and personal with this four engine flying boat. Donal's father was a colleague of Charlie Blair at Pan American World Airways and with that introduction Donal got the opportunity to crew the very last flights of this iconic aircraft.

Donal shares his collection of photos and memories from those days many years ago. 


Noel Holle and his son

with Donal Goggin

Mick Goggin

Pan American World Airways

Flight Operations  - Shannon

more soon


Pan Am / Shannon Ops Office - Mick Goggin, Joe Sheehan and Louis Galvin. The ops board indicates aircraft arrivals and departures with Flt.# - Date /  Aircraft # / Pilot in Command / From / ETA / ETD / To.

We see aircraft N1035V (Boeing 377 - Stratocruiser), N6529C (Douglas DC-6B)  and N1028V (Boeing 377 - Stratocruiser). Captains Vaughn, Stewart and Freeman were PIC. The locations are indicated by ICAO code and I recognize CYQX as Gander, Newfoundland but GALA does not exist today. ??  

The board indicates quick turns with the aircraft being on the ground for about an hour.


N1035V / Boeing 377 Stratocruiser

photo credit Tony Hancke

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Capt. Chile Vaughn

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N6529C / DC-6B

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N1028V / Boeing 377 Stratocruiser

April 1955
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Capt. Charles Blair

Letters to Mick from Capt. Charlie Blair

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Pan Am Shannon Operations

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Arrival at Foynes - July 8, 1976

photo credit 


"Southern Cross" arrives in Foynes before flying on to Glengarriff and Killaloe on July 28, 1976

photo credit  Donal Goggin


Refueling at Killaloe for flight to Gander Lake (Newfoundland) in 1976

photo credit Donal Goggin 


Moored at Glengarriff. Donal drove to Cork City, got a bus to Glengariff and flew on "Southern Cross" for an hour before making the return trip and on to Limerick.

photo credit Donal Goggin 

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Moored at Glengarriff. 

photo credit Maureen O'Hara Blair


Moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbor. Donal Goggin in the bow compartment pulling in the drogues (sea anchors) and adjusting other lines. Noel Holle (engineer) on top and Capt. Ron Gillies in the cockpit.

photo credit  Donal Goggin


Donal Goggin with "Southern Cross" at Killaloe


Moored at Killaloe


Entering Scotsman's Bay at Dun Laoghaire (Dunleary)

photo credit  


Scotsman's Bay at Dun Laoghaire (Dunleary)

photo credit  


Leaving Dun Laoghaire (Dunleary)


taxiing into Dublin


Dun Laoghaire Harbor - Dublin 1977


Noel Holle - Flight Engineer


Capt. Nick Castruccio


A letter to Donal from Capt. Nick


Foynes Museum booklet not complete due to scanning reduced file for posting.

Will complete at another time.


A letter to Donal from Capt. Charlie Blair

Islander / Excambian VIII / Juliet / Sir Arthur George / Fantasy of Flight

c/n SH.113  Shorts S.25 - Sunderland Mk V  /  Many years, many names. The last flying boat still flying in the early 90's made the long trip from Ireland


Edward Hulton's "Juliet" G-BJHS formerly Charlie Blair's "Excambian VIII"

to Florida, USA.

Donal Goggin shares his photos of "Fantasy of Flight"  as it prepares to make the very last Atlantic crossing.

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Fantasy of Flight
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Fantasy of Flight
RAF Hawaker Siddeley "Nimrod"
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Headed to its final resting spot...

photo credit Donal Goggin

See more at...

Wendy & Donal Goggin at their home in  County Kerry

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