Peter Keating - Aviation Photographer

The Early Years

Peter Keating was born in Chiswick, in South West London, in May 1928.  Fascinated by aviation from an early age he joined the Air Training Corps and took his first ever flight at the age of 15 in June 1943. These first flights in Dominies, Tiger Moths, Oxfords and even a few in Wellingtons guaranteed that Peter would make a career in aviation.

First flights with BOAC

In fact it was Peter’s joint interests in aviation and photography that made him join BOAC as a catering apprentice in 1945 before becoming a steward in 1946.

For more than three decades Peter flew in many types of aircraft to all corners of the world and recorded an amazing amount of detail for every flight he took for the rest of his career. Peter’s first BOAC logbook shows that his first flight was from Northolt to Paris on 17 February 1946 on Dakota KK142.  The flight took off at 16.01hrs, lasted 1 hour 32 minutes, was flown by Captain Bailey, the weather was overcast and the flight was bumpy at 4,000ft.

Dakota, York, Lancastrian and Constellation

Apart from his time doing National Service Peter stayed with BOAC / British Airways for the rest of his working life. He moved from Dakotas to Avro Yorks and Lancastrians in 1948 and the following year to Lockheed Constellations where he started flying the route to Sydney.  These trips often took up to 3 weeks which gave Peter plenty of time to get around airports and airfields with his cameras.

5 years on Stratocruisers

1950 saw Peter moving to what would become his favourite aircraft, the Boeing Stratocruiser. For 5 years he flew the routes to New York, Montreal, Montego Bay and Nassau before a further 2 years on Constellations.  In 1957, having already flown over 7,000 hours, Peter moved to BOAC’s recent addition, the Bristol Britannia, just a few months after it had entered service.

Into the Jet Age

Peter moved onto de Havilland Comet 4s in 1959.  Peter’s extensive logbooks show that this period was a great one for his photography as the Comets took him to an astounding list of countries and airports which gave him free rein to take pictures.  Singapore, Hong Kong, Rangoon, Calcutta, Delhi, Karachi, Tehran, Beirut and Zurich was but one route while others included Bangkok, Djakarta, Colombo, Darwin, Melbourne, Khartoum, Johannesburg, Salisbury, Nairobi, Abadan, Doha and many more. It was all just perfect for a man who wanted to photograph every aircraft in the World!

707 and 747

In 1964 Peter transferred to Boeing 707s, his first trip being in G-ARWE which would lose an engine and crash land at Heathrow Airport a few years later. He stayed exclusively with the 707s until early 1969 after which he alternated with Vickers VC-10s. In 1971 he made his final transfer to Boeing 747s.  He stayed flying with BOAC and British Airways 747s until he retired.

Private flying

In his years with BOAC and subsequently BA Peter Keating flew more than 25,000 hours in the company’s aircraft but that wasn’t his only flying experience.

Peter learned to fly in 1953 and during his life he flew 22 types of aircraft including his own Auster. His holidays normally involved getting on aeroplanes again and visiting a number of airfields in Canada or Australia photographing a bewildering array of aircraft. On these trips he would visit all manner of small local airfields where he built an unrivalled collection of photographs of, amongst others, Piper, Beech, Auster, Jodel, Miles, Stinson and an amazing 7,000 plus photos of Cessna aircraft.

Final Years

At the early age of 66 Peter was diagnosed with cancer.  Given just 3 months to live he survived for 4 years, looked after by his wife Rene and surrounded by his friends and his amazing photographic collection. Peter sold most of his colour material to different people but it was always the black and white collection that he wanted to keep together.  It is to the credit of Peter and subsequently his friend and BA pilot, Dacre Watson, that this collection is still together.