VH-TLB John Gilbert

Type: L-188A / L-188AF Electra
MSN: 1069
Previous Identities: Nil
Subsequent Identities: N188LB


10OCT58 Ordered by TAA
TAA's DayGlo Livery
JUN59 First flight
14JUL59 Registered to Australian National Airlines Commission. Delivered to Trans Australia Airlines as VH-TLB "John Gilbert"
17JUL59 Departed Burbank for Melbourne via San Francisco, Honolulu, Canton Island and Nadi. Crew: Captains J.A.P. Boyd, J.H.R. Marshall and J.R. Groves, Navigators A. Harding (BUR/NAN) and C. Randall (NAN/MEL) and Engineer T. Scrive.
19JUL59 Arrived Essendon
26JUL59 Entered service with TAA
03MAR60 Record Melbourne/Perth 4 hrs 38 mins (Capt W.O. James)
19JUL60 En route Sydney/Brisbane (Captain J. Benton) with 43 passengers, one Alex Hildebrandt attempted to hijack the aircraft, demanding that it be flown to Darwin or Singapore or he would detonate a bomb. The hijacker was overpowered by First Officer T.R. Bennett and Captain D. Lawrence (who was a passenger on the flight). Although two shots were fired, the aircraft landed safely in Brisbane. F/O Bennett was subsequently awarded the George Medal for his actions. (Source: "Flypast" by Parnell and Boughton)
27JUL60 See 27JUL70 re clear air turbulence incident.
20MAR61 Departed Melbourne as TN1403 for Nadi, Canton Is, Honolulu and Burbank for wing/engine mount modifications. Crew: Captains R. Widmer and G.J. White, First Officer B.J. Wales, Flight Engineer N.W. Hosking and Captain W. Cast as navigator .
23MAR61 Entered LEAP as LEAP #110 TAA-2
15APR61 Departed Burbank for Honolulu where the aircraft was demonstrated to the FAA by Lockheed pilots.
(Source: TAA - see below). The delivery flight later resumed via Canton Island and Nadi.
19APR61 Completed LEAP (Source: Lockheed - anomalous date - see above and below)
22APR61 Returned to Melbourne. Crew: Captains C.H. Gray and J.H.R. Marshall, First Officer J.H. Lavin, Captain M.B. Darby as navigator and Flight Engineer F.W. McDonald.
19JUN61 Record Melbourne/Brisbane 1 hr 59 mins (Capt A. Mahoney)
24JUL64 All Electras were grounded due to the discovery of wing cracks in VH-TLB. The grounding order was lifted on 27JUL64.
21JAN66 VH-TLB provided an escort for Airlines of NSW Sandringham VH-BRF which had turned back to Sydney with a wing defect. The flying boat was 20 minutes into its flight to Lord Howe Island when a crew member noticed what was later established to be a broken stringer in the starboard wing. The Sandringham alighted normally at Rose Bay.
18APR66 Departed Melbourne for Nadi, Canton Is, Honolulu, San Francisco, Kansas City and New York for wing modifications. Crew: Captains R. Meates and K. Humphries, First Officer C. Alexander, Flight Engineers G. MacArthur and R. Taafe. Navigator Melbourne/Honolulu/Melbourne was Captain Geoff Bracken. Navigator Honolulu/New York/Honolulu was First Officer K. Radke.
30MAY66 Returned to Melbourne.
01OCT68 Operated TAA's first Electra service to the Cocos Islands replacing DC-4s
27JUL70 While cruising at 21,000 feet over northern New South Wales, after departing Coolangatta for Sydney, VH-TLB struck clear air turbulence. Two passengers suffered broken limbs and six more received minor injuries. The aircraft continued to Sydney where the injured passengers were given medical attention. (Source: DCA Annual Report 1970/71). Note: This incident (or a remarkably similar one!) is also reported as having happened on 27JUL60 and 27AUG60. The correct date is believed to be 27JUL70.
22FEB71 Operated TAA's last Electra service to the Cocos Islands. Replaced by Boeing 727s.
29FEB71 Sold to Concare Aircraft Leasing
30APR71 Operated last TAA Electra revenue service TN1948 Melbourne to Sydney. Later positioned to Brisbane as TN1922 under the command of Capt B. Taber. Stored at Brisbane. 33,826 hours 26,843 landings.
13SEP71 Compass swing and test flight at Brisbane. Crewed by Capt Stuart Arnold (command), Capt Ron Hickey and Flight Engineer Bob Verity. (Source: Stuart Arnold's log book)
15SEP71 Ferried Brisbane to Melbourne direct by Capt Stuart Arnold (command), Capt Ron Hickey and Flight Engineer Bob Verity. Flight time 2 hrs 55 mins. (Source: Stuart Arnold's log book)
21JAN72 Sold to Concare Aircraft Leasing, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
20FEB72 Test flown at Tullamarine by Capt Stuart Arnold (command), Capt Aart Hofman and Flight Engineer Bob Verity. Flight time 1 hr 30 mins. (Source: Stuart Arnold's log book).
21FEB72 Test flown at Tullamarine by Capt Stuart Arnold (command), Capt Aart Hofman and Flight Engineer Bob Verity. Flight time 2 hrs 35 mins. (Source: Stuart Arnold's log book).
24FEB72 Struck off Australian Register.
01MAR72 Departed Melbourne to Brisbane on delivery to Concare Aircraft Leasing of Tulsa as N188LB.
02MAR72 Departed Brisbane for Nadi, Pago Pago, Hilo, Oakland, Tulsa and Miami flown by Concare crew under Captain Hofman
72 In the late spring of 1972, the aircraft was lease-purchased from Concare Aircraft Leasing Corp by Transair Corp of Nevada with offices in Anaheim, California. (Source: Bill Dettori)
12JUN72 Arrived at Vientiane, Laos from Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Source: Bill Dettori)
Leased to Royal Air Lao as XW-PKB named "Tiao Khoun Boulom".
29MAR73 Flew from Vientiane to Hanoi and return with a press contingent to cover the release of American prisoners of war. (Source: Phil Dreith)
31JUL74 Electra operations by Royal Air Lao ceased because of non-payment to Transair Corp. (Source: Bill Dettori)
08AUG74 Fearing seizure of the aircraft by the new Lao government, the aircraft was flown to Hong Kong for overhaul by HAECO after which it did not return to Laos. (Source: Phil Dreith & Bill Dettori)
27OCT74 Ferried to Seletar, Singapore after overhaul in Hong Kong. (Source: Phil Dreith & Bill Dettori)
74 Leased to Mandala Airlines, Indonesia in passenger configuration and full Mandala livery. For this lease, the aircraft was given the temporary registration PK-RLX. In Mandala service the aircraft was named "Pangeran Diponegoro". (Source: Phil Dreith & Bill Dettori)
15FEB75 Mandala lease terminated, mainly due to the Indonesian civil aviation authorities demanding reduced TBO (time between overhaul) on the power plants. The aircraft was later positioned to Singapore and it made no further flights for Trans Air Corp. The aircraft was subsequently seized, along with msn 1061, because of defaulted payments by Transair Corp. Apparently the aircraft was never de-registered as N188LB during its ownership by Transair Corp. (Source: Phil Dreith & Bill Dettori)
late 75 Sold to American Jet Industries as N188LB. The aircraft was flown back to the U.S. by famed Lockheed test pilot Herman "Fish" Salmon. (Source: Phil Dreith)
14OCT75 Noted at Van Nuys, California as N188LB. (Source: AL)
24APR76 Noted at Van Nuys being stripped for conversion to L-188AF freighter by AJI. Aircraft carried the name "Pangeran Diponegoro" on the nose. (Source: AL)
05JUN76 In service with Transportes Aereos Centro-Americanos S.A., El Salvador as YS-07C by this date. (Source: AL)
(Earlier reports that the aircraft was named "Pangeran Diponegoro" in TACA service are almost certainly incorrect as this is a name from Indonesian history which is known to have been carried by this aircraft during its earlier lease to Mandala. Photographic evidence and a physical inspection by Gordon Reid in September 1978 confirm that the aircraft was not named in TACA service).
02FEB80 While starting number 4 engine at San Salvador International Airport, the number 4 fuel tank exploded in flames. Both fire bottles were discharged into the number 4 engine with no apparent effect. After shutting down the aircraft, the crew evacuated without injury. Although the airport fire services attended, the wing failed outboard of the number 4 engine and the wing tip contacted the tarmac before the fire was extinguished. The aircraft was not repaired after the fire and it was eventually parted out and the airframe presumably scrapped. (This account and the accompanying photographs were kindly supplied by Albert Johnston via Daniel Castro)


See TAA Electras in S.E. Asia

Issue Date Remarks
Added an image of VH-TLB in service with TAA thanks to Peter Gates.
Added a nostalgic image of VH-TLB at Eagle Farm thanks to Peter Gates.
Added a slideshow.
Added three images thanks to Eric Allen. Image 1 Image 2 Image 3
Added a reference to the DayGlo livery.
Added a new image of VH-TLB thanks to Eric Allen.
Refreshed page layout with no change to data.
Added one image of VH-TLB thanks to Peter Gates.
Added further details of the period 1972-1974 thanks to Bill Dettori who was the Flight Engineer on the aircraft.
Added more detail of the Mandala lease including the registration PK-RLX. Thanks to Phil Dreith.
Added more detail of the freighter conversion and subsequent service with TACA drawn from Aviation Letter by Gordon Reid.
Added much detail of the aircraft's time in South East Asia thanks to Phil Dreith.
Deleted reference to possibility of aircraft being painted as N188LB at the time of the test flights in FEB72. It is now considered more likely that it was painted as N188LB closer to the date of departure on delivery to Concare (01MAR72).
Added details of test flying around the time of the sale to Concare. Refer 13SEP71, 15SEP71, 20FEB72 and 21FEB72. Information contributed by Stuart Arnold who was in command of these flights.
8 08FEB04
The clear air turbulence incident which was previously recorded on this page under 27JUL60 is now believed to have happened on 27JUL70 (which see).
7 06FEB04
Amended the names of the navigators on the ferry flight to New York in April 1966. Thanks to Gil White and Gordon Reid.
6 24JAN04
Added several crew names thanks to Gil White.
Also added extra details of the hijacking drawn from "Flypast" by Parnell and Boughton.
5 03JAN04
Added an account and photos of the incident which led to the aircraft's withdrawal from service. Thanks to Albert Johnston and Daniel Castro.

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