Flight 338 ‘Convict Air’ – The Riddle Within

An ATR42-300 airliner entered service with Air Queensland from new as VH-AQD in May 1986 before leaving the southern hemisphere after just over a year for use firstly with JAT Yugoslav Airlines then with a number of other European airlines (see below). The last of these airlines was to be Blue Islands from 2013 to 2016 serving as G-ISLG for flights to the Channel Islands. Upon retirement Air Salvage International at Cotswold Airport began the parting out of the airframe but rather than being scrapped the fuselage was to find uses elsewhere. Visitors to the Bournemouth Air Festival in 2017 may have seen it on the beach modified into an Aerobar painted as ‘Immense Air’. Entertainment business Immense Events had carried out major rework of the fuselage to create a bar with side opening hatches and internal kitchen facilities with the intention of touring the bar to outdoor events around the country. It was stored initially over that winter of 2017/2018 at Bournemouth Aviation Museum but the touring plans did not materialise and so its next move was from the museum to the Greenwich Peninsula, London in April 2019. It was lowered into position in the grounds of Studio 338. a nightclub, at which its life as a bar was briefly utilised prior to conversion to an altogether different purpose.

The Riddle Within immersive entertainment business has carried out repairs and further extensive work required at first to return it to the appearance of an airliner and then with the addition of cages and chains to transform it into the world’s first aircraft escape room. It opened for business in November 2019 and has been very popular with prospective escapees. Escape rooms have become an increasingly popular attraction, and for the first time includes the option of breaking out from an aircraft. Handcuffed participants board the ‘prison flight’ tasked with escaping their chains and the cages inside using clues found within.

 

VH-AQD             Air Queensland                   16.05.86               Left Fleet

YU-ALK              JAT Yugoslav Airlines          03.07.87               Left Fleet

OY-CIG               DLT                                      03.12.90               Left Fleet

OY-CIG               Lufthansa Cityline                15.03.92               Left Fleet

OY-CIG               Holmstroem Air                   01.10.94               Left Fleet

OY-CIG               Cimber Air                           21.06.95                Left Fleet

F-WKVB              ATR                                      30.06.08                Left Fleet

F-HAAV               Atlantique Air Assistance    05.12.08                Left Fleet

G-ISLG                Blue Islands                         13.02.13         Scrapping commenced 2016

Abingdon Air & Country Show – Dalton Barracks – 14 May 2017

The airshow at the former RAF airfield suffered a number of pre-event cancellations and periods of bad weather – despite being moved a couple of weeks further into the year in an attempt to avoid those incidents from which it had previously suffered.  As always though, Neil Porter and his small team delivered a highly entertaining program of flying and ground activities, with revised regulations necessitating a complete re-design of the public access and viewing areas. One of the Twister team experienced an engine failure resulting in a heavy emergency landing and injuries to the pilot, reported to be relatively minor. The following images hopefully illustrate a little of what was on offer to the visiting public.

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