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History & Milestones

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Find out more about how Fly UK came into existence and how through innovative development and forward thinking, has grown to become one of the UK's best-known organisations in virtual aviation.

A New Virtual Airline

It all began in March 2004 when Thomsonfly Virtual closed. The CEO (Daniel Ellis) and Vice CEO (Chris Sutcliffe) decided that with the knowledge they had gained from the many months of successfully creating and running Thomsonfly Virtual - a VA based on the real world carrier - Britannia/Thomsonfly, to go their separate ways and start up new virtual airlines. As a result of the closure, Fly Trans Global (FTG) Virtual was setup by Daniel Ellis and Chris Sutcliffe began creating plans for a brand new UK virtual airline based at Leeds Bradford. By late March - Fly UK Virtual Airways was born.

Fly UK is Born

Originally Fly UK wasn't going to be Fly UK at all. It was in fact going to be bmi virtual. However, after some research, it was suggested a VA based on a real world airline would involve more hassle in terms of gaining the appropriate consent from the real world carrier to ensure we were not in breach of copyright. Virtual Star Alliance were having major problems, as the real world Star Alliance was threatening legal action against them for using the Star Alliance logos and names without permission. Legal battles with real airlines was something we were keen to avoid and the process of choosing an original new name began. After many hours of brain storming, the name 'Fly UK' was chosen, others which nearly made it to becoming the official name included: Jet UK, UK1 Airlines, flyJetSet, Air UK and UKfly.

The Early Days

A question many people ask about our past is why was Leeds Bradford chosen as the main base? There are a number of reasons, and it's debatable how valid these reasons are, but none the less it has proven to be very successful. Leeds has always been our most popular hub. Leeds Bradford was chosen to be the airline's main operational base firstly because it was Chris's local airport and secondly because LBA is an airport which Chris felt was not as active or as well known in the flight sim community as it should have been.

In April 2004 Fly UK officially commenced operations, launching with a free domain ( Much of our advertising was done via the Microsoft Gaming Zone and FS2002/ We have never looked backed, the VA has gone from strength to strength and has developed into what you see today..

Thomson Virtual Closed Logo 1 Logo 2 Logo 3  Website 1  Website 2

Key Dates & Milestones

March 2004 - Work begins on plans announced by Chris Sutcliffe to create a new UK based virtual airline operating from Leeds Bradford airport to a variety of worldwide destinations. The virtual airline will be named Fly UK Virtual Airways.

April 2004 - Fly UK is officially launched using the website - and begins recruitment for pilots and management staff. Daily flights from Leeds Bradford and Kennedy International in US using a Boeing 747, 757 and 737 begin.

May 2004 - Fly UK has 30 members and a full management team with Gareth Richardson appointed as Vice CEO. A brand new website is launched at Fly UK pilots are now welcome to fly online if they wish in UK ATC sessions.

June 2004 - The Fly UK Boeing 757 displayed a new Fly UK Livery, however this livery was changed a few weeks later and was not painted on any any other aircraft in the fleet.

July 2004 - A revised timetable is launched and new aircraft added to fleet - Airbus A320 and Embraer 170. A comprehensive new pilot training and rank scheme is now available and is a great improvement to Fly UKs service to pilots.

August 2004 - Fly UK goes live on the Virtual Airline Stock Exchange enabling people to purchase shares in the virtual airline! is completely re-designed to be more user friendly with a separate crew area for pilots.

September 2004 - Fly UK introduces a unique new fully automated pilot/pirep roster system which includes roster been instantly updated and all pilots having separate login details.

October 2004 - Brand New Winter timetable released, which involves 2 new UK hubs - London City (EGLC) and London Gatwick (EGKK), also fleet is updated as follows to include - Embraer 170, Airbus A320, Boeing 747 and Boeing 757, Boeing 737, Dash 8 Q400 and Bae 146 - 200. New timetable is a strategic move to develop a UK Domestic flight network from London City and introduce a number of international and long haul European flights from London Gatwick however mainstry of European routes still operating from Leeds Bradford.

November 2004 - Fly UK receives Top 10 Virtual Airline award from !

December 2004 - Fly UK Management reveals major plans to completely re-structure Fly UK, this includes a re-designed website and changes in the way the virtual airline operates. The airline will now use hub operations and lots of new features and changes are planned to transform Fly UK for the better!

Fly UK Livery In Times Gone By

There have been quite a few different variations of the Fly UK livery since we started in 2004. Initially one of our major problems was finding a painter to repaint the entire fleet in the same livery. The first two liveries you see below never appeared on all our aircraft. The second livery only ever appeared on our B757-300 aircraft. The first livery to appear on all our aircraft was the 2005 livery. Since 2006 the Union Spirit livery has been in use but has been modified over the years with changes including the 'flick' from the front of the aircraft removed and billboard style titles.

An Airbus A320 in our first livery.

Livery 1

A Boeing 757-300 in our second livery.

Livery 2

A Boeing 737-300 departing in our 2005 livery.

Livery 3

An ATR72-500 in the first Union Spirit livery.

Livery 4

A Boeing 737-800 in the 2007 Union Spirit livery.

Livery 5

A Boeing 757-200-WL in the Union Spirit v5 livery.

Livery 6