G-ALHG ‘Hotel Golf’ was a Canadair C4 Argonaut airliner and one of twenty-two Argonauts built at the Canadair factory at Cartierville in Montreal, Canada for British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). Delivered on 5th July 1949, the aircraft entered service on the airline’s African, Middle East and Asia Pacific routes.
BOAC was inspired by the Greek myth of Jason and his voyages in the ship Argo. Consequently, their Argonaut fleet was named after mythological characters and Hotel Golf was called Aurora, Goddess of the Dawn.
BOAC’s fleet of Argonauts saw service with the airline until 1960. Hotel Golf operated the last BOAC Argonaut service, from Abadan in Persia to London. Flown by Captain E N Wright, she touched down at Heathrow on Friday 8th April 1960, ending BOAC’s Argonaut era during which time the fleet had totalled over 500,000 flying hours and carried 870,000 passengers.
The Argonauts were sold to various airlines and on 19th April 1960, Hotel Golf was one of nine aircraft acquired by Overseas Aviation at London Gatwick airport.
Overseas Aviation became one of Europe’s largest charter operators but collapsed in August 1961 with debts of £500,000.
On 14th November 1961, Hotel Golf, along with four other Argonauts ‘HN’ ‘HP’ ‘HS’ and ‘HY’ was acquired by Derby Airways, based at Burnaston Aerodrome East Midlands. ‘HN’ and ‘HP’ were broken up in order to provide spares for the remaining three aircraft, which operated European inclusive tour charter flights from Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol.
In 1964, Derby Airways became British Midland Airways and the three Argonauts continued to operate as the mainstay of their charter fleet. The airline transferred to its new base at Castle Donington, East Midlands Airport in 1965. By this time, the total number of passenger seats had increased from fifty (as installed during BOAC operations) to seventy-eight.
On 6th March 1967 Hotel Golf suffered a nose wheel collapse during landing at East Midlands Airport. The nose, fuselage, inboard propellers and engines sustained damage. The aircraft was subsequently repaired and was returned to service in mid-April 1967.
On 4th June 1967 Hotel Golf crashed during approach to Manchester Airport and was written off at Hopes Carr in Stockport. The accident claimed the lives of seventy-two of the eighty-four souls on board and remains one of the worst urban air crashes in British history.