Asian Aviation Photography



Cathay Tristar Story Title image
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In the history behind any great company, there are seminal moments; moments that change the course of that history. Cathay Pacific’s history includes a number of very important moments. One of these was the decision in 1974 to purchase the Lockheed L1011 Tristar. Although not entirely their own decision, this was to have very important ramifications. Chief amongst these was the fact that they obtained a superb aircraft that did much to help turn the airline into one of Asia’s premier airlines.

In the early 1970's Cathay Pacific were operating a mixed fleet of Convair 880 and Boeing 707 aircraft. By this time the airline had established quite an extensive route network throughout Asia, but still wanted to expand. Having got the route network, the next stage was to expand their seat capacity on many of their routes. Air routes were heavily controlled by country-to-country Air Transport Agreements, so it was not easy to obtain additional ‘slots”. Open Skies agreements did not exist at that time. It was therefore logical that most airlines started to look at the 'wide-body' options available as a way to increase seat capacity.

Cathay undertook a study to ascertain what equipment options were available to them. The airline decided quite early in the process that the B747 was too large, and expensive, for their immediate needs. It appears that there were only two other real contenders at that time. McDonnell Douglas with their DC-10 and Lockheed with the L1011 Tristar. It is interesting that Airbus was launching its revolutionary new A300 aircraft at about that time, but there is no evidence that Cathay looked at the Airbus as an option. After visits to both American aircraft manufacturers and carefully considering all the pros and cons, a recommendation was made to the Cathay Board to purchase the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. The Board accepted this recommendation. However, before an announcement could be made, the British Government intervened. They were trying to ensure the survival of Rolls Royce, who made the new RB211 engines for the Lockheed Tristar. Swires, who owned Cathay, were asked to reconsider and they agreed to do so. Cathay returned to Lockheed to hold further discussions. At this point Lockheed made Cathay an offer they could not refuse and, in March 1974, an order was placed for two very reasonably priced new aircraft.

The Lockheed L1011 Tristar was not only a highly sophisticated and technically advanced aircraft, but it was also a good-looking aircraft. The pilot’s adage that if an aircraft looks right it will usually fly right was particularly adept in this case. The late Ray Hannah, who went on found the Old Flying Machine Company at Duxford, was amongst the first Cathay B707 pilots to go to Palmdale for training on the Tristar. He told David that he loved flying the Tristar, which he described as being a quantum leap forward from the B707. He went on to describe it as having few vices. Praise indeed from a man who had helped form the Red Arrows in 1965 and who became Red One in 1966! Most Tristar pilots will tell you that she was a lovely aircraft to fly; with the roomiest cockpit of any aircraft at the time. The cockpit is even larger than the B747 and, as David will attest, had the best jump seat in the business. The cockpit windows were immense, giving an unparalleled view, particularly when making the IGS turn into Kai Tak’s Runway 13! Being one of the first ‘wide-body’ aircraft, the Tristar offered an extremely roomy cabin and was therefore very popular with both passengers and cabin crew.

Three Rolls Royce RB211-22B engines power the Tristar, the number two engine being mounted in the tail, with one and three under the wings. As a testament to the overall strength of those wings, some Tristars, including the first two aircraft purchased by Cathay, had the ability to transport a fourth engine mounted under the wing. This was used occasionally to transport replacement engines when aircraft went 'technical' outstation. Whilst the Tristar remained a technically challenging and expensive aircraft from a maintenance point of view for all its operators, it had very high up-time compared to many other aircraft types.

The Tristar turned out to be a really good choice for Cathay Pacific and those two initial aircraft turned into a love affair that lasted until October 1996, when the last of Cathay's Tristars was retired. By then, Cathay had bought twenty of the aircraft, although one of these (VR-HHG) was sold to Gulf Air in 1980 during a worldwide downturn in the aviation industry. Only two of Cathay's Tristars were purchased new from Lockheed, with the remainder coming from a number of sources. Thirteen were to come from Eastern Airlines, two from the liquidators of Court Line, two came from Guinness Peat Aviation and another, the last purchased, came from British Airways in 1993. By January 1994, all 19 Tristars were still in operational service with Cathay, although two were leased to Dragonair.
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The expert on all Cathay Pacific's aircraft is Captain Martin J Willing, a Cathay pilot, who wrote the definitive book for any student of Cathay Pacific aircraft: From Betsy to Boeing - The Aircraft of Cathay Pacific Airways 1946-1988 (ISBN 962 265 002 3), published by Arden publishing in Hong Kong in 1988. Whilst long out of print, it is well worth trying to locate a copy of this invaluable paperback book. If you would like to read more about the airline itself, then Gavin Young's book : Beyond Lion Rock - The Story of Cathay Pacific Airways (ISBN 0 09 173724 9) covers the history of the airline upto 1988, when the book was published. If you want more information about Cathay's earlier years, then another excellent book on Cathay Pacific is Syd's Pirates - A Story of an Airline (ISBN 0 949756 05 9), published in 1983 by retired Cathay Pacific Pilot, Charles (Chic) E Eather, who joined Cathay virtually at the beginning and retired in 1975. Chic Eather also wrote Airport of the Nine Dragons, Kai Tak Kowloon - A Story of Hong Kong Aviation (ISBN 0 9586746 0 4), published in 1996, which tells the story of Kai Tak.


Details of each aircraft’s service with Cathay Pacific are given below. The aircraft are listed in the order in which they were leased / delivered to Cathay. The first two Tristars were the two L1011-385-1-15 Tristar 100's purchased new from Lockheed.

1 - VR-HHK - L1011-385-1-15 Tristar 100 (Msn 193T-1118)

VR-HHK was handed over to Cathay at Lockheed’s Palmdale Plant on 8 August 1975. The aircraft remained at Palmdale for three weeks of acceptance trials and crew training. She then departed Palmdale for Hong Kong, stopping at Honolulu and Guam en route, arriving there to a very public welcome by the Governor of Hong Kong on 2 September 1975. Her first revenue flight was on 16 September 1975 as Cathay 450 to Taipei and Tokyo. VR-HHK remained with Cathay until 9 September 1996 when she was retired. By that time she had flown 49,558 hours and had operated 24,495 cycles with the airline. She flew the most hours and operated the most cycles of any of the Tristars operated by Cathay Pacific.
1 - VR-HHK - L1011-385-1-15 Tristar 100 (Msn 193T-1118)
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HHK in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

Cathay sold the aircraft to Investors Asset Holding Corporation in November 1996 and they re-registered it as G-IOII. It was leased to Classic Airways on 18 August 1997 for one year, being returned to the lessor in August 1998. It was then withdrawn from use and stored at Stanstead, UK before being broken up in February 2000.
2 - VR-HHL - L1011-385-1-15 Tristar 100 (Msn 193T-1122)

2 - VR-HHL - L1011-385-1-15 Tristar 100 (Msn 193T-1122)

VR-HHL was handed over to Cathay at Lockheeds Palmdale Plant on 30 September 1975. Like VR-HHK, this aircraft also remained at Palmdale for about three week's of acceptance trials and crew training. She arrived in Hong Kong on 22 October 1975, piloted by Captain Laurie King with a crew comprised of Captain Bob Howell, First Officer Ed Harris and Flight Engineer John Voysey. VR-HHL remained in service with Cathay until 25 June 1995, by which time she had completed 46,352 hours and 23,237 cycles with CX.
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HHL in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

After being withdrawn from service, the aircraft was flown to storage at Marana, Arizona, USA. Purchased by Credit Lyonnais / PK Airfinance and re-registered as V2-LEN, the aircraft was leased to Caribbean Wind Airlines between May and August 1996. Sold to Air Transat and re-registered as C-GTSB in December 1996. The aircraft remained with Air transat until withdrawn from service and stored in December 2001.

It was not long before Cathay Pacific decided that it wanted to add further Tristars to its fleet and a search started for suitable aircraft. Initially, a very complex lease and purchase deal was done with Eastern Airlines for three further Tristars, with the first of these, VR-HHX joining the Cathay fleet in November 1977. The remaining two aircraft, VR-HHG and VR-HHY joined the fleet May 1977 and July 1978 respectively.

3 - VR-HHX - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1054)

VR-HHX was the first of three Tristars leased, then eventually purchased, from Eastern Airlines. Delivered to Eastern in December 1973 as N326EA, this aircraft was leased to Cathay on 14 September 1976. The leasing deal with Eastern included the modification necessary for the aircraft to have the enlarged C1A cargo door. For some unspecified reason there were significant problems with this modification. Whilst all this was going on, the aircraft was sub-leased back to Eastern.

On 21 November 1977, Cathay purchased the aircraft outright and it was re-registered VR-HHX. Captain Bob Howell and his crew of Captain Geoff Gratwick, with Flight Engineers Bruce Holyman and Bob Holder flew the aircraft to Hong Kong on 25 November 1977. VR-HHX remained with Cathay until 31 December 1995, completing 42,728 hours and 21,769 cycles with the airline.
3 - VR-HHX - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1054)
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HHX in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

Sold to Norske Finance Nederland BV in December 1995 and re-registered TF-ABH, the aircraft was immediately leased to Air Atlanta Icelandic until withdrawn from service in April 1999. It was then stored at Manston, Kent, UK, where she was eventually broken up in November 1999. Whilst with Air Atlanta the aircraft undertook several sub-leases with Peach Air.

4 - VR-HHG - L1011-385-1 Tristar 100 (Msn 193A-1056)

The second aircraft sourced from Eastern Airlines under the agreement was VR-HHG, a Tristar 100 version. The aircraft had been delivered to Eastern on 20 December 1973, registered N328EA. The aircraft was returned to Lockheed at Palmdale for modifications to bring her up to Tristar 100 standard before joining the Cathay Pacific fleet on 8 May 1977 with 7400 hours in her logbook. On 1 December 1977, Cathay purchased the aircraft outright.

In 1980 Cathay Pacific suffered from a temporary dip in its fortunes. Gulf Air was looking for Tristars at that time and Cathay agreed to sell them VR-HHG for US$28 million. The aircraft was sold to Arab Leasing Company, Bahrain for lease to Gulf Air on 17 December 1980 and re-registered A40-TV.

David doesn't have a picture of VR-HHG in Cathay service and the aircraft remains the only Cathay Pacific Tristar that he did not fly on as a passenger. However, by chance, in 1988 David flew on her from Bahrain to Dubai with Gulf Air.

The aircraft was converted to Tristar 200 standard in June 82. On 19 June 1990 the aircraft was sold to Omani Aviation Services, with the lease to Gulf Air remaining in place until the aircraft was returned to the lessor in December 1993. At that time she was withdrawn from service and stored at Cambridge, UK. Curiously, Gulf Air bought the aircraft on 30 January 1998 and, re-registered as N900D, sold her on to Interlease Aviation Investors V Inc the same day. In February 1998 she was withdrawn from use again and stored at Abu Dhabi, where she was broken up.
5 - VR-HHV - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193K-1024)

5 - VR-HHV - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193K-1024)

The next Tristar to join the Cathay fleet, VR-HHV, came from another source. Court Line, a British Tour operator, had two Tristars in its fleet when it went bankrupt in the summer of 1975. The liquidators immediately impounded the entire fleet. HSBC was the major creditor and the two Tristars were offered to Cathay at very competitive prices. Leased initially, Cathay purchased this aircraft (previously registered G-BAAA) on 4 November 1977. An Eastern Airlines crew delivered the aircraft to Hong Kong from Palmdale, where it was stored, with 3439 hours in the logbook. She went immediately to HAECO for modification and did not become operational until 29 March 1978. VR-HHV remained with the fleet until 11 June 1996. By this time the aircraft had completed 43,041 hours and 21,924 cycles with Cathay.
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HHV in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

Sold to Equis Financial Group and re-registered EI-CNN in January 1997, the aircraft led an active life for several more years. Short leases included TBG Airways, Iberia, Kampuchea Airlines, Britannia Airways and Air Scandic, before she was withdrawn from use and stored at Abu Dhabi in October 1999.

6 - VR-HHW - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193K-1032

The second ex-Court Line Tristar (G-BAAB) to join the Cathay Fleet was registered VR-HHW and was purchased on 14 October 1977. Captain Laurie King, with Captains Geoff Gratwick and Keith Brady and Flight Engineers Bruce Holyman and John Cains flew the aircraft from Lockheed's plant at Palmdale to Hong Kong, where it arrived on 16 October 1977. Whilst with Lockheed the aircraft underwent some modifications and was extensively overhauled. So there was little delay in putting her into service and her first revenue flight took place on 30 October 1977. On joining Cathay she had 3,242 hours in her logbook.
6 - VR-HHW - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193K-1032
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HHW in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

VR-HHW remained in Cathay service until 11 August 1995, by which time she had completed 40,319 hours and 20,744 cycles with the airline. The aircraft was flown to Marana in Arizona USA, where she remained in storage until purchased by Credit Lyonnais/PK Airfinance in March 1996. Re-registered V2-LEM, she served with Carribbean Wind Airlines for five months until August 1996, before being returned to storage at Marana. She was next purchased by Air Transat on 6 May 1998 and re-registered as C-GTSI. Arizona Air Support eventually broke her up in December 2000.
7 - VR-HHY - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 ( Msn 193A-1051)

7 - VR-HHY - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 ( Msn 193A-1051)

The last of the three Tristars purchased from Eastern Airlines under the highly complex lease and purchase scheme, joined Cathay on 17 July 1978 as VR-HHY. The aircraft had first flown on 28 October 1973 and was delivered to Eastern as N325EA on 22 November 1973. In 1975 the aircraft was leased to Trans World Airways for five months, before returning to service with Eastern until purchased outright by Cathay in 1978. Captain Geoff Gratwick and Captain Frank Seaton, with Flight Engineers Pat Dunne and Terry Mathews flew the aircraft to Hong Kong at the end of July 1978. Her first revenue flight with Cathay was on 18 August 1978 and she started service with 12,417 hours in the logbook.
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HHY in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

VR-HHY was to make history with Cathay, being the last to leave the fleet. On 15 October 1996, Captain Terry Neal, First Office Phil Saggs and Flight Engineer Peter Brand brought VR-HHY back to Hong Kong from Nagoya and Taipei as CX 531. David had accompanied and photographed this final revenue flight for Cathay. Captain Terry Neal kindly offered David the jump seat for the landing at Hong Kong.

After arriving in Hong Kong the aircraft made one last journey, a farewell flight around Hong Kong for Cathay Pacific staff and a few guests, including David. Captain Greg Gibbins, Acting CX Tristar Fleet Manager, with a crew of First Officer Phil Saggs and Flight Engineer Nigel Brown, flew this last flight. Whilst they were enjoying this last mission, the passengers in the back, were in party mood! They had paid a nominal amount for the flight and this raised a generous amount for the Cathay Sunnyside Club charity.

Photo; Left to right - Captain Terry Neal, Flight Engineer Peter Brand and First Officer Phil Saggs with VR-HHY before departure from Nagoya.
VR-HHY - 2
VR-HHY - 3
VR-HHY - 4 Photo: Captain Greg Gibbins (left), First Officer Phil Saggs (centre) and Flight Engineer Nigel Brown (right) pose with the cabin crew after the final trip around Hong Kong.

Before she was de-Cathay-nated, as one wag at CX put it, VR-HHY had completed 39,754 hours and 20,100 cycles with the airline, with a total of 52,171 hours altogether. Her departure from Cathay was far from being the end for this particular aircraft. Sold to Norske Finance Nederland BV on 17 November 1996 and re-registered as TF-ABU, she went on to operate with Air Atlanta Iceland, Peach Air and Monarch Airlines at one time or another. Whilst leased to Air Atlanta Iceland, she was sold again to Elmo Ventures Ltd on 31 December 1999. She was eventually withdrawn from use and stored at Soderhamm, Sweden in November 2000, where she was eventually scrapped in May 2001.

8 - VR-HOD - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1(Msn 193A-1043)

To add further Tristars to the fleet, Cathay next returned to Eastern Airlines and managed to get a very advantageous leasing deal for a further three aircraft. The first of these was N321EA, which joined the Hong Kong registry as VR-HOD. Captain Frank Seaton, together with Captain Neville Hall, First Officer John Carrodus and Flight Engineers Terry Mathews and Geoff Vineburg delivered the aircraft to Hong Kong on 18 October 1978. The aircraft had 13,561 hours in her log-book when handed to Cathay. On 20 April 1987 Cathay purchased the aircraft outright from Eastern.
8 - VR-HOD - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1(Msn 193A-1043)
VR-HOD - 1 On 1 July 1990, VR-HOD was wet-leased to Dragonair and repainted into their Red and Gold livery. She remained with Dragonair until 18 November 1993. She was then repainted in full Cathay livery and remained with the airline until retired on 25 June 1996. During her time with Cathay and Dragonair, VR-HOD had completed 39,812 hours and 19,878 cycles.

You can purchase a copies of this photographs of VR-HOD in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.
Sold to Quintet Aviation Ltd on 13 August 1996, who sold her to Motor Accident Commission the following day and who re-registered her as N143MC. In November 1996, the aircraft was sold to Orient Express Air, who re-registered her as HS-LTA and transferred her to Orient Thai Airlines in January 1997. Whilst with Orient Thai, the aircraft was leased to Kampuchea Airlines and Merpati Nusantara Airlines and was re-registered as XU-600 in March 1999. In 2001 the aircraft was withdrawn from use and used for ground training in Tuscon Arizon, USA.
9 - VR-HOA - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1022)

9 - VR-HOA - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1022)

VR-HOA was the second of the aircraft leased from Eastern Airlines, having been delivered to Eastern as N314EA on 2 January 1973. Leased by Cathay on 6 October 1979, the aircraft was flown to Hong Kong on 3 October 1979 by a Cathay crew. These were Captain Neville Hall, with Captain 'Paddy' Anderson, First Officer John Carrodus and Flight Engineers Geoff Vineburg and George Williamson. When handed over to Cathay she had flown 17,758 hours. She went into service on 18 October 1979.
In October 1983 the aircraft was sold to James Company Leasing, but Cathay continued their lease. In June 1987 Cathay purchased the aircraft and she remained in Cathay service until 17 September 1995, when she was withdrawn from service. By then she had completed 33,459 hours and 17,024 cycles with the airline.

You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HOA in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

Purchased by Elmo Ventures Ltd in November 1995, the aircraft was re-registered TF-ABE and immediately leased to Air Atlanta Icelandic. Whilst with Air Atlanta, the aircraft was regularly sub-leased to other airlines, including Peach Air, Britannia Airways and Caledonian Airways. The aircraft was finally withdrawn from service and stored at Marana, Arizona, USA in December 1999. She was still there in September 2006.

10 - VR-HOB - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1037)

Delivered to Eastern Airlines on 30 June 1973 as N316EA, this was the third of the leased aircraft that Cathay obtained from Eastern. The Cathay lease began on 1 March 1980 and the aircraft was ferried to Hong Kong by a Cathay crew comprising Captain ‘Paddy” Anderson, with Captain Noel Jones, First officer John Carrodus and Flight Engineers George Williamson and Dennis Grant on 3 March. She entered revenue service on 12 March 1980. Purchased by James Leasing in October 1983, the aircraft continued in Cathay service. Cathay purchased the aircraft on 1 July 1987 and she became VR-HOB. The aircraft was withdrawn from use on 13 May 1996, by which time she had completed 33,656 hours and 17,265 cycles with the airline.
10 - VR-HOB - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1037)
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HOB in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

Sold to Air Transat and re-registered C-GTSY in May, the aircraft was ferried to Marana, Arizona for storage, where she remained until broken up in March 1998.
11 - VR-HOC - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1042)

11 - VR-HOC - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1042)

This aircraft was delivered to Eastern Airlines as N320EA on 1 September 1973. Cathay purchased her from Eastern on 20 April 1987, when she became VR-HOC. She was ferried to Hong Kong by an Eastern crew, arriving on 22 May 1987. According to Martin Willing in his excellent book, the aircraft arrived in Hong Kong in rather poor condition. She went straight to HAECO, who stripped her paint off, repaired many areas of corrosion and painted her in her new Cathay livery. Her flight deck instrumentation was updated to Cathay standards and her cabin was extensively refurbished, including adding the large overhead luggage bins. She didn’t enter service until 1 July 1987. She remained with Cathay until 5 December 1994, by which time she had completed 13,369 hours and 6,816 cycles with the airline.
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HOC in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

The aircraft was ferried to Marana, Arizona, USA for storage; she was sold to Airfleet Credit Corporation and then to Venada Aviation on 31 July 1995. The aircraft was subsequently parted out for spares.

12 - VR-HOF - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193E-1027)

This aircraft was purchased by Air Canada on 12 April 1973 and was registered C-FTNE. Purchased by Guiness Peat Aviation Group Ltd (GPA) on 3 December 1986, the aircraft was leased to Air Lanka the same day, re-registered as 4R-ULK. Cathay purchased the aircraft from GPA in early 1988 and it joined the fleet on 14 March 1988 as VR-HOF. She remained with Cathay until retired on 5 November 1994, by which time she had amassed 12,937 hours and 6,573 cycles whilst with the airline. VR-HOF was the first of Cathay’s Tristars to be retired. When she left Cathay she had a total of 47,949 hours in her logbook.
12 - VR-HOF - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193E-1027)
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HOF in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.
VR-HOF was sold to Aerospace Technologies of Australia Aircraft Services (ASTAAS) on 9 November 1994 and flown to their base at Avalon Airfield near Melbourne. Over the next few months she was parted out and scrapped. At that time HAECO, a Swire subsidiary, had a 29.1% stake in ASTAAS. David visited ASTAAS in March 1995 to photograph the process. The pictures below show VR-HOF in the ASTAAS hangar.
VR-HOF - 3
13 - VR-HOE - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193E-1021)

13 - VR-HOE - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193E-1021)

This is another ex-Air Canada Tristar, originally delivered to the airline on 14 January 1973 as C-FTNB. This aircraft remained with Air Canada until purchased by Guiness Peat Aviation Group Ltd (GPA) on 7 November 1986. She was then immediately leased to Air Lanka the same day being re-registered as 4R-ULJ. She was returned to GPA on 15 April 1988, the day that she was sold to Cathay and re-registered again, this time as VR-HOE on the Hong Kong register.
VR-HOE remained with Cathay until 30 September 1996 and was the second to last aircraft to actually leave the fleet. By this time she had a total of 53,197 hours in her logbook, with 16,297 hours and 8,154 cycles added during her service with Cathay.

You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HOE in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

Sold to Air Transat in October 1996, the aircraft was re-registered as C-GTSK. She remained in service with Air Transat until October 2000, when she was withdrawn from use, stored and subsequently broken up.

14 - VR-HOH - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1050)

Cathay next returned to Eastern Airlines as a source for additional Tristars and between 1988 and early 1990 obtained a further six aircraft from this source. It is worth remembering that Eastern filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1989 and after many attempts to resurrect the company, finally ceased operations in January 1991. No doubt Cathay got a good deal on its Tristars.

Originally delivered to Eastern as N324EA on 13 November 1973, Cathay purchased the aircraft on 12 August 1988. It was delivered to Cathay two days later, remaining with the airline until retired on 21 February 1995. By then she has amassed 49,643 hours in her logbook, of which she had flown 12,389 hours and 6,138 cycles with the airline.
14 - VR-HOH - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1050)
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HOH in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

On 2 March 1996 Cathay sold the aircraft to Far East Leasing who re-registered her SE-DTC and who leased it to NordicEast International Airways on 19 March 1996. NordicEast International changed its name to Nordic European Airlines in July that year and they returned the aircraft to the lessor on 13 August 1996. On 1 October that year, Nordic European took another short lease, returning the aircraft on 22 October 1996. The next lease was to Blue Skandinavian from 1 December 1996 to 31 October 1997. Leased to Novair Airlines on 1 November 1997, the aircraft was returned to the lessor in December 1998. The aircraft was immediately withdrawn from service and stored at Arlanda, Stockholm, Sweden. She was sold to another owner on 5 May 1999, although it is not know who purchased her. She was last heard of being stored at Abu Dhabi following the sale.
15 - VR-HOG - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1045)

15 - VR-HOG - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1045)

The second of the six purchases, and the next Tristar to join the Cathay fleet was VR-HOG. The aircraft was delivered to Eastern Airlines as N323EA on 16 October 1973. Eastern leased her to British Airways between 6 October 1978 and 29 February 1980, when she returned to Eastern service. On 3 June 1988 Eastern leased the aircraft to LTU, the German airline until 29 November 1988, when Eastern sold her to Cathay Pacific. Delivered to Cathay on 1 December 1988, the aircraft remained with the airline until retired on 31 March 1995. By that time VR-HOG had a total of 48,148 hours in her logbook, of which 12,230 hours and 6,082 cycles had accumulated during her time with Cathay.
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HOG in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

VR-HOG was sold to Far East Leasing on 20 April 1995 and was re-registered as TF-ABP and leased to Air Atlanta Icelandic the same day. Between April and October that year the aircraft was sub-leased to Istanbul Airlines. Upon return, the aircraft was withdrawn from service and stored at Bremen, Germany. Sold on to Venada Aviation Inc, the aircraft was flown to Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire, UK in June 1996. The aircraft was subsequently scrapped, although the fuselage was taken to Pinewood Studios, UK in March 2002, apparently to star in a James Bond movie.

16 - VR-HOI - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1039)

VR-HOI was the third aircraft and was delivered to Eastern Airlines on 13 August 1973 as N318EA. Cathay purchased the aircraft on 18 February 1989 and it was re-registered as VR-HOI, with 38,195 hours in its logbook. The aircraft remained with Cathay until 5 July 1995, by which time she had added a further 11,970 hours and 5,884 cycles to her logbook.

You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HOI in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

In July 1995 VR-HOI was flown to Bremen, German where she was stored and used for spares. She was eventually broken up in October 1996.
16 - VR-HOI - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1039)
17 - VR-HOJ - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1044)

17 - VR-HOJ - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1044)

The next aircraft to join the Cathay fleet was VR-HOJ. The aircraft, which first flew on 15 September 1973, joined the Eastern fleet on 12 October 1973 as N322EA. Cathay Pacific purchased the aircraft on 9 April 1989, with 37,663 hours in her logbook and she was re-registered as VR-HOJ. When retired by Cathay on 10 April 1995, the airline had added 11,970 hours and 5,884 cycles to her logbook.

You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HOJ in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.
Sold to Elmo Ventures Ltd in June 1995, the aircraft was re-registered as TF-ABL and leased to Air Atlanta Icelandic from 8 June 1995 to November that year. Upon return she was withdrawn from service and stored at Marana, Arizona, USA. Sold to Venada Aviation Inc on 14 December 1995. ,who re-registered the aircraft as N322EA in March 1997, the same registration that she started her career with at Eastern Airlines 24 years before.

18 - VR-HOK - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1055)

The fifth aircraft had been delivered to Eastern Airlines on 28 December 1973 as N327EA. The Wilmington Trust Company bought the aircraft and leased it back to Eastern in January 1985. In September 1988 the aircraft was withdrawn from use and stored at Marana, Arizona, USA, where it remained until Cathay purchased it on 1 July 1989. When she arrived, re-registered at VR-HOK, the aircraft had 37,587 hours in her logbook.

You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HOK in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.
18 - VR-HOK - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193A-1055)
For four years Cathay used the aircraft, before leasing her to Dragonair from 15 August 1993, and she was repainted in Dragonair’s new all white livery. VR-HMW (see below) had been leased to Dragonair in March of that year and VR-HOK replaced VR-HOD (see above), which returned to Cathay’s fleet three months later. Dragonair returned the aircraft to Cathay on 20 June 1995. When the aircraft returned to Cathay it was decided that it was not worthwhile to repaint her in the full Cathay livery. Instead only her tail was repainted and she operated in this hybrid scheme, until retired on 31 July 1996. During her time with Cathay and Dragonair, VR-HOK had completed 14,543 hours and 6,962 cycles. Her logbook showed a total of 52,130 hours when she was subsequently sold.
VR-HOK - 2 She changed hands three times on one day in October 1996. Cathay sold her to Quintet Aviation on 1 October 1996, who sold her to Tamonate Ltd, who immediately sold her to to Motor Accident Commission, who re-registered her as N155MC. She was wearing this registration when she departed Hong Kong. In December 1996 the aircraft was sold again, this time to Orient Express Air. In January 1997 the aircraft was transferred to Orient Thai Airlines and re-registered HS-LTB. In October 1997 the aircraft went on a one-month lease to Kampuchea Airlines. Orient Thai Airlines re-registered the aircraft in March 1999 as XU-700. In July 2000 she was leased to Angel Airlines, where she remained until February 2001. Stored since 2001, it was reported that she was due to be broken up in September 2004. This has, however, not been confirmed.

19 - VR-HMV - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193R-1033)

This was the last of the six aircraft purchased from Eastern Airlines. Before joining the Cathay fleet VR-HMV had already had a long and varied career. Originally delivered to the German airline LTU on 29 May 1973 as D-AERA, the aircraft undertook a one month wet-lease with Nigerian Airways for the November 1979 Hajj flights. On 18 December 1980 LTU sold the aircraft to Eastern Airlines and immediately leased it back until April 1981. The aircraft was then returned to Eastern and re-registered as N372EA. The aircraft was leased to Air America between 15 June and 7 December 1988. American Trans Air leased the aircraft in May 1989 and promptly sub-leased her to Air Algeria until 6 November 1989.
19 - VR-HMV - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193R-1033)
Cathay purchased the aircraft on 14 March 1990, but she was leased back to Eastern until she joined the Cathay fleet as VR-HMV on 8 May 1990. When she arrived with Cathay there were 41,063 hours in the logbook. She remained with Cathay until retired on 18 May 1995. During her service with Cathay she completed 8,940 hours and 4,384 cycles.

You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HMV in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

Sold to Far East Leasing on 5 June 1995 and re-registered SE-DTD, the aircraft was leased to Nordic East International Airways between 19 June 1995 and 6 June 1996. The aircraft was next sold to Elmo Ventures Ltd and re-registered as TF-ABV on 15 August 1996 and leased to Air Atlanta Icelandic the same day. The following day, the aircraft was sub-leased to Transwede Leisure, renamed Blue Scandinavia later that year in October. TF-ABV remained with Blue Scandinavia until 31 December 1996. The next sub-lease was to Monarch Airlines, from 19 December 1997 to April 1998. A sub-lease immediately followed this to Caledonian Airways until July 1998. The same month the aircraft was withdrawn from service and stored at Manston, Kent, UK where she was subsequently broken up.
20 - VR-HMW - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193N-1094)

20 - VR-HMW - L1011-385-1 Tristar 1 (Msn 193N-1094)

This was the last Tristar purchased by Cathay Pacific. The aircraft was delivered to British airways on 22 November 1974 registered as G-BBAG. Cathay purchased this aircraft on 8 March 1993 and re-registered her as VR-HMW. She had been purchased specifically for onward lease to boost Dragonair seat capacity, following an agreement whereby Dragonair took over Cathay’s high capacity routes to Shanghai and Beijing. Cathay Pacific retired VR-HMW on 19 September 1995, by which time she had amassed 33,935 hours in her logbook. She had added 6.173 hours and 2,760 cycles whilst with Dragonair.
You can purchase a copy of this photograph of VR-HMW in the Cathay Tristar Photos sub-section in the Buy Prints section.

On 6 October 1995, Cathay sold the aircraft to Air Transat who re-registered her as C-GTSX and operated her until May 2002, when she was withdrawn from service and stored.

The Cathay Pacific Cabin Attendants Strike Tristars

No history of Cathay Pacific’s involvement with the Lockheed Tristar, however brief, is complete without mentioning two other Tristars. In January 1993 Cathay Pacific’s cabin attendants went on strike. Flight crews were not involved in the strike and some of the cabin attendants did not join the strike. Cathay tried to maintain as much of its flight schedules as possible. They quickly organised a number of short-term wet lease charters to pad out the flights that they were able to operate from their own resources. These charters included a DC-10 from World Airways (N115WA), a B767 from Britannia Airways (G-BNCW), A300s from Monarch Airlines (G-MONR) and Korean Airlines (HL7289) and two Tristars from Caledonia Airways. These were G-BBAE and G-BBAF. Some may seen it as somewhat ironic that twenty years later Cathay were to operate a DC-10 in its fleet, be it for a very short time!

Caledonian Airways L1011-385-1-14 Tristar 100, registered G-BBAE (Msn 193N-1083)

This aircraft was delivered to British Airways on 19 October 1974 and was named “Stargazer Rose”. Leased to British Airtours on 21 April 1985, she was renamed “Torbay”. British Airtours became Caledonian Airways and the aircraft was yet again renamed, this time to “Loch Earne” on 14 April 1988. On 24 November 1988, Caledonian Airways sub-leased her to Worldways Airlines and she was re-registered as C-FCXB on the Canadian Registry. The was returned to Caledonian Airways as G-BBAE on 24 April 1989. A further lease was made to Worldways Airlines between 20 December 1989 and 10 April 1990, again as C-FCXB.
Caledonian Airways L1011-385-1-14 Tristar 100, registered G-BBAE (Msn 193N-1083)
After she returned to Caledonia Airways as G-BBAE, the aircraft was converted to Tristar 100 standard in May 1990. As we know, Cathay wet-leased the aircraft briefly in January/February 1993. Caledonian Airways finally purchased the aircraft on 31 March 1995. She continued to serve with the airline until November 1999, when the aircraft was withdrawn from service and stored at Abu Dhabi. She was sold one last time, to Avtec AG on 2 February 2002 and was used for spares. By September 2004 she had been scrapped.

In the photograph above, G-BBAE (Msn 193N-1083), is seen departing from Kai Tak’s Runway 13 as Cathay 701 for Bangkok at 14:35 on Saturday 30 January 1993.
Caledonian Airways L1011-385-1-14 Tristar 100, registered G-BBAF (Msn 193N-1093)

Caledonian Airways L1011-385-1-14 Tristar 100, registered G-BBAF (Msn 193N-1093)

G-BBAF arrived new at British Airways a few weeks after G-BBAE, on 8 November 1974. British Airways at first named her “The Coronation Rose”, but subsequently re-named her “Babbacombe Bay”. On 23 December 1990, British Airways leased the aircraft to Caledonian Airways, who re-named in “Loch Fyne”. In March 1991, British Airways converted her to Tristar 100 standard and she continued with the Caledonian lease. In January/February 1993, Cathay wet-leased the aircraft for a short period.
Caledonian Airways purchased G-BBAF on 31 March 1995, the same day that they purchased G-BBAE. Aer Lingus leased G-BBAF twice, the first time was from 4 June to 20 September 1996 and the second time was from 13 May to 13 October 1997. G-BBAF continued in service with Caledonian Airways until withdrawn from service and being stored at Abu Dhabi in November 1999. Caledonian Airways merged with Flying Colours Airlines to become JMC Airlines on 27 March 2000. JMC sold the aircraft to Avtec AG in February 2002, who immediately leased her to Ducor World Airways as 3C-QRL. The aircraft was last reported operating out of Ostend in 2004.

In the photograph above, G-BBAF (Msn 193N-1093), is seen arriving on Runway 13 at Kai Tak AS Cathay 700 from Bangkok at 13:19 on Saturday 30 January 1993.
TristarMontage-4
We hope that you enjoyed our brief history of the Tristar in Cathay Pacific service. If you have any feedback on any aspects of this article, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please drop David a line at: DavidRiley@AsianAviationPhotography.com
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