Jacques Hémet shares his vintage propliner images

Jacques Hémet was director of Hémet Exploration and as such he travelled extensively. Photos from Hémet Exploration aircraft are shared here on page 1, while page 2 is dedicated to his collection of other rare or remarkable aircraft.


Photos © Jacques Hémet


F-BVJH in Rub-al-Khali desert
Jacques Hémet sent me these photos in Feb.2010:
DC 3 F-BVJH during a logistics contract in Saudi Arabia (Rub al Khali desert) in the 1970's.



DC-3 F-BFGX operated by Hémet Exploration.
F-BFGX Hémet Exploration
DC-3 F-BFGX in Somalia, take off from the 'bush'...
This undated photo shows F-BFGX parked alongside a Lockheed Constellation of Air France
F-BFGX and Lockheed Constellation

DC-3 F-BFGX (c/n 11722) of Hémet Exploration.
Here seen at Sfax, Tunesia with magnetometer in tow bird configuration.

F-BVJH of Hémet Exploration
Douglas C-47A F-BVJH (c/n 9336) is seen here undergoing an engine change.

The propliner photopage by Ron Mak on this website also features a photo of F-BVJH.

This is a screendump from online database ATDB.org, showing the career of C-47A c/n 9336 (Airliners.net)


DC-3 in maintenance
Douglas DC-3 F-ODQL having its wing 'pulled'

Past identities for C-47B c/n 32935: 44-76603 - KN461 - G-AMPT - VP-YKM - 7Q-YKM - ZS-EYO - F-ODQL - F-GILV - N48ME - 3C-JJN - T9-ABC
It was bought by Air Cape and registered as ZS-EYO in May70; on 27sep84 it was acquired by Hemet Exploration and registered as F-ODQL (may have been impounded in Algeria).

F-ODQL in flight
On 18jul90 this C-47B was bought by one Gilbert Villa, to be restored for 'members only' operations, but Mr Villa died and the aircraft's registration F-GILV was cancelled on 01feb95.

There had been a discussion at some point about parking fees for F-ODQL at Tammanrasset; mr Villa mediated and negotiated a satisfying deal for all parties concerned; he in fact decided to buy 'DQL.
We were in the Sahara (Ténéré desert) at this time to support BMW race team, to experiment some prototype of motorcycle and tires in sight of the next Paris Dakar race.
We were heavily involved in aerial support for the Paris-Dakar Race during 8 years. This concerned DC-3, Do.28, Helicopter AS.350, etc!)
I rented the plane on a dry lease. Then I found myself short crews for they were being recruited by larger companies, able to offer better contracts.

Next owner was Warmair (Feb95) who reg'd it N48ME and had it flown to Luqa,Malta.
Here is was noted on 07mar95, reregistered as as 3C-JJN, but a ferry flight to Algeria was cancelled due to engine problems.
During 1995 it was again rereg'd as T9-ABC for operations in Bosnia, but was seen stored at Malta-Safi on 27oct96.The Bosnia plan was cancelled as there was no permit to fly, NCA's unpaid bills may have ben a factor too.
In Nov99 Newcal Aviation (NCA) proclaimed another restoration, but instead it was donated to Malta's Aviation Museum and moved there on 27Mar06; see: www.airliners.net


DC-3 F-BFGX Hemet Jacques wrote: "Douglas DC-3 F-BFGX of Hemet Exploration, parked after ferry flight when purchased from the French government; it had been operated by the French FAA for Navaid calibration). The picture is interesting for the 'maximised conversion' : landing gear door and modified exhaust pipes.

DC-3 F-BJHC Hemet Exploration"DC-3 F-BJHC at Lido Aerodrome (near Venice, Italy) during a movie job...
Film shooting was done in 1980 and the story took place in the late 1930s. The DC 3 was a supposed to be a Lufthansa plane."

"Sadly, F-BJHC was shot down in 1981. While doing some research near Beira (Mozambique),chartered by Shell, it deviated from the original route after air traffic control instructions, then the aircraft was considered hostile and it was shot down with an ground-to-air missile. All 6 crewmembers were killed. ."

Jacques Hémet wrote me:
"This above is the official Mozambique version, the truth is a little bit different....
The DC-3 was exactly on the Shell-planned (and authorized!) track, at the desired altitude, with the magnetometer in tow configuration (cable 60 meters long).
The lack of radio communication of the missile battery and a stupid missile operator was the only cause! Outrage!
At the start Mozambique officials tried to cover up this fact and the plane was declared missing...
After two days, I sent another DC-3 (F-FBGX), which was flying in the north of the country, to carry out our own search. Only at this time Mozambique officials admitted and advised us the plane had actually been shot down, by mistake, due to the radio failure of the missile battery."


c/n 25756/14311 USAAF-Serial: 43-48495

  • 250844: delivered USAAF
  • 121044: Europe ATC
  • 060946: 9th ATC - Div FLC (Foreign Liquidation Commission - US Overseas disposals)
  • 101046: transferred to Belgian Air Force
  • 001046: 169Wing-367Sqn (H-CW)
  • 000047: overhaul Scottish Aviation
  • 000000: 15Wing-20Sqn (OT-CND)
  • 000000: used as Navigation Trainer
  • 000000: converted to PC47B (aerial photography)
  • 290458: tt 2117,20 hrs
  • 000760: participates in actions in Congo
  • 260176: flown to Koksijde for storage (pilot: aDC Devos), last aircraft to be taken out of service (together with K10) (tt 6813:09 hrs)
  • 181177: flown to Wevelgem
  • 000000: Call-sign: OT-CND, H-CW, BAF71 - Other IDs worn in BAF-service: KN-8, KP-8
  • 000077: noted registered SU-AZO Nile Delta Air Service/Nileair, Cairo (not taken up)
  • 150278: departs Wevelgem as F-ODHB Arabian Geophysical & Survey Co, Dhahran
  • 050778: registered F-BJHC SA Hemet Exploration, 21 Avenue Clement Ader, F31770 Colomiers (Toulouse)
  • 010881: Shot down. See above
    [Source: Belgian Military Aircraft http://belmilac.wetpaint.com/page/Part+1:+K1+-+K22]
  • Beech 18 F-BEHI
    "This picture was taken at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, 1975 I would presume...
    Beech D18S F-BEHI was the former executive aircraft of Sud Aviation and it ended up at Djibouti, at a skydiving club."
    It was photographed at Djibouti, preserved, in June 2005, but the link went dead (jan.2012). A pic in Propliner magazine showed it on display outside Djibouti terminal on 18May2011.


    Jacques Hémet sent me these historic images; the captions are his.
    Our DC3 F-GEOA in good company in the 1980s. Hémet Exploration parking (Toulouse Blagnac Airport).

    The Aero Comander 685 F-OCGX, was a specially modified arcraft for geophysical survey and vertical photography.
    Hémet Exploration DC-3 at Blagnac

    Hemet Toulouse
    Hémet Exploration hangar on Toulouse-Blagnac airport (circa 1985).
    Now the place is fully surrounded by EADS installations.
    In the back you can see the very beginning of the A 340 building.

    F-BFGX at Johannesburg
    Douglas C-53D F-BFGX: wing attachment inspection at Johanesburg's Hunting repair shop - around 1980.
    This C-53D c/n 11722 is now preserved at Speyer Technik museum.

    Jacques suggested: "It could be interesting to collect photos of this DC-3, with the help of 'friends', when the plane was under colours of USAF, SAS, Air Inter, DGAC (french FAA)...
    To my knowledge, this aircraft was one of the first DC-3s used by SAS and she made the first commercial flight by Air Inter, Toulouse - Paris/Orly.
    When she was used by my company, she was basically used for aeromagnetic survey over many countries, and also for testing the first SPOT satellite sensor with a gyro stabilised platform."


    A little history on Jacques Hémet and Hémet Exploration, as I have gathered here 7 there (more information would be welcomed):

    Jacques started his company in 1961 selling oxygen equipment, parachutes etc....
    Before that he was doing military service in Algeria; his flying career took off in 1954 (and ended in 2006). In 1954 he spent his flying hours in many ways: in gliders, doing parachuting and flying conventional planes. Unfortunately, in 2006 he suffered a serious paragliding accident.

    In 1964 Jacques set up a repair station for light aircraft and he also became Cessna dealer, as well as starting a flying school.
    Jacques built an FBO, Hémet Aviation, on Toulouse-Blagnac airport; this company was sold to Uni Air in 1976, but they kept the operating name, Hémet Aviation, for a considerable time. Again later the company name changed to Uni Air Maintenance, which anno 2010 might still exist.

    Hémet Exploration used a variety of aircraft, plus one helicopter: five DC-3, one Aero Commander 685, two BN 2, two DO 28, 3 Cessna 185, one AS 350B helicopter.

    Hémet Aviation became a Sogerma subsidiary in 1988, forced by the oil exploration crisis: in 1986 the barrel price of oil fell under 10 US dollar and the bottom droped out, all major companies decided to stop exploration at the same time.

    The interest by Sogerma was in fact for the location of the Hémet location, near to EADS. Jacques can proudly say that the 'Beluga', the hugely modified Airbus A300 used for transporting Airbus parts, was built in the Hémet hangar (albeit after considerable modifications, including the extension of the surface).
    Anno 2010 'EADS Sogerma' is a part of the division Airbus of EADS; it is engaged in the manufacture (wings assembly for ATR) and development of aerostructures, cabin interior layout, airline seats.

    Jacques' secretary was the last of his staf to be employed with the new company and he kept in contact over the years, but retired in 2006.

    Nice to note that the Airbus manufacturing of present day takes place on grounds with a formidable history!

    [Help in obtaining more information on the history of Hémet Exploration / Aviation would be greatly appreciated - EMAIL - Webmaster]


    Jacques also sent these images of Hémet's DC-3 F-OCUY (c/n 7390):
    Hemet F-OCUY
    Picture taken on Jean Mayen airstrip.

    Jan Mayen Island is a volcanic island in the Arctic Ocean, 55 km (34 miles) long (southwest-northeast) and 373 km2 (144 mi2) in area, partly covered by glaciers [Wikipedia, more...]

    DC-3 F-OCUY at Jean Mayen (Hemet) Also at Jan Mayen airstrip, 1970s.

    F-OCUY was re-registered F-BJBY in 1980, it crashed on 21apr1981 (report on ASN). This was not the only one that disappeared without trace over the Mediterranean... see DC-3 ECT-025.
    VIP cabin for F-OCUY Jacques wrote: "A cabin picture of the F-OCUY when purchased from Mr Kurfiss.
    I bought the plane with a C of A delivered by Koratinsk,i who was FAA inspector (the plane was US registered at the time)
    Kurfiss used that plane (not the only one, I presume) to make inflight porno movies, which were for sale at the Frankfurt terminal sex shop!

    Maybe a copy can be found on the web..?"

    "This C-53 had been converted to an executive configuration by Remmert Werner (features such as a retractable tail gear, A 12 Sperry autopilot - hydraulic actuated door/stair - airline Collins Radio etc...).
    An 12-autopilot was the main reason of my purchase, because the use of the plane for geophysical survey (very low time airframe too)."


    F-OCUY and F-OCKH - Hemet Aviation

    F-OCUY (ex/ N569R) coming back from Yémen, and F-OCKH going to Saudi Arabia, meeting at Malta airport, probably in 1977 or 1978.

    Douglas C-53 42-15873 (c/n 7390) was registered to N87638, N569R, F-OCUY, F-BJBY. Crashed in april 1981 on the flight from Oran to homebase Toulouse.
    F-OCKH was a C-47A (c/n 9336) and carried during its career these identities: 42-23474 F-BFGA 23474 F-BRGO F-BFGA F-OCKH F-BVJH (EC-530?) EC-FAH. It was delivered to Aeromarket (EC-FAH) on 30Jul90. It crashed near the firestation of Palma de Mallorca (PMI) on 02mar93, during take off after engine failure on flight to Madrid; 2 crew killed.
    My webpage on Ron Mak's propliners has also a photo of this DC-3 as F-BVJH, HERE...




    Sabena Fokker somewhere in Africa
    Sorry, no more info about this refueling somewhere in Africa...
    Sabena Fokker somewhere in Africa
    Duty free - good bargain!




    DC-3 TT-EAB Tchad
    "Photo of TT-EAB taken on N'Damena airport. The plane was badly damaged during fights with Lybian troops (around 1980)."
    Douglas C-47A TT-EAB c/n 9157 was scrapped at N'Djamena at some point. (-Webmaster)
    Tchad Air Force C-47

    "Tchad air force C-47, after departure of Lybian troops from N'djamena airport, in the 1980s."

    One suggestion offered on the identity was: "Looking at the length of the Tchad AF C-47 serial number it could be either 348291/TT-LAB (c/n 25552) or 348861/TT-LAC (c/n 26122). There appears to be what looks like a '4' at the beginning of the serial number which could be the third digit of the fiscal year: 1943."
    Iain C. MacKay


    Air Tchad DC-3 TT-EAA
    Air Tchad DC-3 TT-EAA (c/n 25548)

    Wing pull and airframe inspection of TT-EAA at Toulouse Blagnac (Hémet Aviation repair shop), around 1975.


    Jacques Hémet sent me this photo of Chalk's International Airlines Grumman G-73 Mallard (c/n J-9):
    Grumman Mallard N123DF of Chalk's

    Jacques wrote: "I remember how were effected by the strike of the FAA people in the USA; we had to land in the Bahamas and continue our trip with Chalk's, arriving in the Miami harbour!"

    Grumman Mallard N2970 Chalk's
    Grumman Mallard N2970 (J-28); see also Airliners.net


    Wresk at Asmara (ca.1980)

    Jacques Hémet
    wrote me in Nov.2009:
    "I was in Asmara,Eritrea, around 1980, and have these photos to share. They may be of interest to your readers/viewers."

    More photo by Jacques Hémet further below on this page.


    Maintenance of DC 3 F-BFGX at Hunting facilities in Jo'burg.
    F-BFGX is now preserved at the Technik Museum, Speyer, Germany (in Air Inter livery).
    Surevy equipment on board DC-3

    Geophysical data acquisition equipment onboard F-BFGX (high sensivity magnetometer).


    Modified Dornier for geophysical work

    DC-3 F-OCUY (see also photo earlier on this webpage) and Do.28 F-BTCU. The Dornier was modified for geophysical data aquisition and vertical photography.
    At Toussus le Noble airport, around 1979.


    Dornier Do-28 Skyservant F-BTCU in flight and where it came to an end (probably around 1982/83).
    The large image has F-BTCU in aeromagnetic configuration (retraction phase of the high sens sensor), while the smaller image sees its wreck at Falea, a small town and commune in the Cercle of Kéniéba in the Kayes Region of south-western Mali (Falea on Wikipedia)
    Do-28 c/n 4018: N6771, D-IDWO, F-BTCU
    Dornier Do-28 F-BTCU

    The result of a landing on temporary airstrip during the rainy season...
    One wheel passed over a hole, which had been 'repaired'. The land had previously been covered by termite hills!
    When you service the airstrip filling in potholes, during the dry season there is not much of a problem; but when the rain season comes, the holes would feel like filled in with something like chocolate!
    We were too far from any kind of road and local repair was too expensive. We decided to abandon the plane after salvage of radios, engines, etc.
    The fuselage became the house of the local village chief and later a bush fire finalised the situation...
    The end for Do.28 F-BTCU

    Ce.185 F-ODKQ

    Cessna 185 F-ODKQ in Rub Al Khali desert, after a wheel failure (melting defect);
    it was an almost brand new aircraft...

    In late-2021 I received some nice updates by David Jessich
    Cessna 185 F-ODKQ in Rub Al Khali desert, by David Jessich
    Caption: 'Dumvilles on Cessna 1999'.
    "We had to take an extra 200 liters of gas just to get there and back. We had lots of fun!"

    David wrote: "Here's is a later photo. Do you know of more about this plane? By the way, about ten years ago I went to look for it again, but either it was totally covered by a sand dune, or had been hauled off to the aluminum recycling plant in Jubail.
    I particularly like your photo because it showed the engine (and tail section) intact.
    Ubaylah is about 600 km south of Dhahran.
    Many years before that, I found an F-86 Sabre jet near Uqair: I had a piece of the wing and a 0.50 caliber machine gun from it in my back yard until I returned to the States.
    When I went back to find it and found it was gone; a Bedouin confirmed that it had been taken for recycling.
    Oh well, so much for history." ¬David Jessich (Saudi Arabia 1953-2004)

    Cessna 185 F-ODKQ in Rub Al Khali desert, by David Jessich
    "I found another aircraft with chassis number only three digits lower, operating in Alaska. How cool is that?
    I wanted to know more about who was flying the plane, when it crashed, and what they were doing. Aerial photography for Aramco perhaps ? We used to take camping trips to the desert and visit the early oil exploration sites."


    Hemet Exploration DC-3 F-GEOA

    Douglas C-47B F-GEAO (c/n 16685/33433) seen in support of the Paris-Dakar Rally at EL Golea airport in Algeria.
    This classic transport has been preserved at Musée de l'Aéronautique de Nancy-Essey as 44-74620. Identities in its history include (USAAF) 44-76420, (RAF) KN379, (AdlA) 476420, (FAF) 720 and then to civil registry as F-GEOA.



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    Created 29JUL2010