“Any higher Mr Bond, and my ears will pop…”
When Bond is returning from a mission in the pre-title sequence in Moonraker, he is sent home in a private plane from Apollo Airways. M calls it “the African job” and we get the impression that Bond is flying back from Africa. The plane appears to be chartered by the villain that Bond supposedly has dealt with during the African job since both the pilot and stewardess are working together to kill Bond. Furthermore, Jaws is on board to make things even harder. Before the action starts Bond is ‘on his last leg’ with the stewardess, enjoying a glass of Bollinger. Two bottles of wine can also be seen in the cabin, one red and one white.
“-This is where we leave you Mr Bond!
-A little premature isn’t it?”
Bond is travelling in a Handley Page HP 137 Jetstream, belonging to Apollo Airways. This was actually a Californian passenger and cargo charter airline that operated between 1975 and 1982 before it changed name to Pacific Coast Airlines. Founded in 1969, scheduled operations for Apollo started in 1975, serving southern and central California from Santa Barbara. By 1978 the airline served Sacramento, San José, Oakland and Las Vegas. Apollo entered into bankruptcy protection in 1981 and was reorganized by 1982, changing its name to Pacific Coast Airlines. The airline faced its demise and ceased operations in late 1985.
It is not a surprise that Apollo is a Californian airline, since the skydiving stunts in the pre-title sequence were performed in the United States. Maybe the filmmakers wanted to thank Apollo for the cooperation during the stunt sequences and therefore didn’t change the livery on the aircraft to an airline operating in Africa. Although it is unlikely that Apollo Airways was well known outside of California and the name could probably be used without placing Bond in a specific country.
|One of the 10 Jetstreams that was operated by Apollo Airways.
Used with kind permission of Richard Vandervord
Thanks to Willam Cox, a former pilot at Apollo/Pacific Coast Airlines, I have learned that the two pilots for the Jetstream in the movie were Dan Gray and Ron Whitfield. They had both joined major airlines at the time of the reconstruction. The parachute action was filmed near a jump school in Pope Valley in Napa, California. The lake seen in the film, the one that the plane is flying over (top picture) is Lake Berryessa, the biggest lake in Napa. The tail number of Bond’s Jetstream is N5VH but apparently all the tail numbers were later changed and the specific aircraft that was used in the film received the tail number N2209 and was painted in the same colors as the plane in the picture above. This livery was also used by Pacific Coast Airlines.
|The Bond Jetstream with the original livery|
Many thanks to former Pacific Coast Airlines Captain William Cox for the information about the pilots and the location of the jump. It has been hard finding information about the airline and if anyone has more information about Apollo Airways or some nice pictures, just let me know!