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Alouettes & Lamas

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  • Alouettes & Lamas

    An opportunity to post anything and everything about Alouettes and Lamas.

    The Lama is one of my favourite helicopters and .. while she looks as though she may have been designed by Frank Hornby, and though she shakes like a drunk in withdrawal, and despite the poor leg room of her rear-seat passengers, and even though she can't accommodate their baggage, yet .. for her size, her performance is dazzling .. and who, pray tell, can resist the exquisite shrill of her antique Artouste as it leaps into life - a call to flight for anyone within a kilometre of her frame!

    And all this talk of Lamas reminds me of a little poem I once read, composed by a boy who had watched Lamas at work in the Italian Alps:

    Lama dear lama, who can compare,
    to your crane-like frame so rugged and bare.

    A Meccano construction of Perspex and tin,
    you even can fly, while lacking a fin!

    Some in disdain have called you a ‘bug’,
    little they know, you are more like a tug!

    To others who stare, you seem incomplete,
    till you haul man and ware, to ten thousand feet!

    “A collection of tubes which both shake and do rattle”,
    says he who has never seen you in battle.

    Take heart lovely Lama, and pay them no heed,
    for you are a contraption most splendid indeed.

  • #2

    Air Glaciers SA315B Lama HB-XTO as seen at Bex in Switzerland on 1st September 2007


    • #3

      Air Gregory SE3130 Alouette II G-AVEE (cn 1203) as seen at Plymouth's Roborough Airport on 17th October 1970 (Photo: Chris England)


      • #4
        Bernd van Doornick flying Air Glaciers SA315B Lama HB-XTO in his last Lama display at Bex in Switzerland in 2007:

        Bernd logged some 24,000 flying hours and is credited with rescuing more than 5,000 people during his career.


        • #5
          Did you know ..

          That there are currently 22 Alouette III's registered in Iran as well as 3 Lamas!

          Iran Helico SA315B Lama EP-HCG at Dezful, Iran on 31st March 2012 (Photo: Mohammad Shaltookei)


          • #6

            Bristow SA316B Alouette III EP-HBF supporting operations at Bavush-1 in Western Iran in 1975 (Photo: Gunter Burmeister)

            This photo was taken in 1975 while working on the BICC contract at Bavush, Iran. We were engaged to help build a high tension power line that required lots of serious longline underslung load work. The base camp was at 7,200 feet msl and the average work site was at 4,500 feet msl with outside air temperatures approaching +45°C during the summer.

            I remember landing one sling load at 13,000 feet while on that job. The pilot in the photo is myself .. thirty pounds lighter and a whole lot more hair in those days. That very well may have been the Alouette which crashed land was written off. Gunter Burmeister was the pilot at the time of the crash. The aircraft lost a tailrotor gear box and came to rest on a steep mountain slope.

            - Ralph Chappell
            Narrative courtesy of Dave Edwards.

            Bristow Helicopters SA316B Alouette III EP-HBF in the Zagros Mountains of Western Iran in 1976 (Photo: Frédéric Rolland)


            • #7

              Air Transport Europe SA316B Alouette III OM-FIT as seen at Letisko Poprad-Tatry Airport in Slovakia in August 1996


              • #8
                Republic Aviation's Alouette II trials with the US Navy in 1958:


                • #9

                  Pakistan Army SA315B Lama 704 as seen near Rawalpindi in Pakistan on 5th November 2008 (Photo: Rogier Westerhuis)

                  Photographed from an AS250B of No. 8 Squadron Pakistan Army Aviation Unit.


                  • #10

                    Austrian Alouette III's destined for the EUFOR contingent in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2009 (Photo: Markus Zinner)


                    • #11

                      Air Vallée SA315B Lama I-NERY as seen at La Thuile in the Aosta Valley in northern Italy on 17th April 2002 (Photo: Salim Helou)


                      • #12

                        German Army SE3130 Alouette II 7574 (cn 1477) as seen at Maastrict in the Netherlands in the 1980's (Photo: Paul Kipping)


                        • #13
                          Remembering François-Xavier Bagnoud ..

                          François-Xavier Bagnoud was a helicopter pilot who specialized in rescue operations and who dedicated his life to helping others. Born in 1961, he was the son of Albina du Boisrouvray and Bruno Bagnoud.

                          By the end of his secondary studies, Francois-Xavier was already a licensed and experienced pilot. An aeronautics enthusiast, he entered the Department of Aerospace Studies of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1979. After excelling in his studies, he obtained his engineering degree and published a reference manual: “Theory of the Helicopter for Private Pilots”.

                          His passion for flying was such that he became the youngest professional Instrument Flight Related airplane and helicopter pilot in Europe at age 23. This passion, combined with an extreme generosity, led him to join his father’s company, Air Glaciers, in Sion, Switzerland. Within three years, he carried out some 300 rescue flights in the Alps, as well as the deserts of Africa.

                          Tragically, François lost his life in 1986 at the age of 24 years in a helicopter accident in Mali. In 1989, his mother Albina du Boisrouvray, his family and their friends founded the Association François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB International) and the FXB Foundation in order to pursue, in the field of development, the rescue missions that he led and to perpetuate the values of generosity and compassion that guided the life of François-Xavier.

                          François-Xavier Bagnoud


                          • #14


                            • #15
                              More I-NERY ..

                              EliAlpi SA315B I-NERY (aka 'Henry') as seen in Messina, Sicily, during the summer of 1987 (Photo:

                              'Henry' was involved in a powerline survey at the time of this photo. She would later be sold to Air Vallée (see post 11).

                              Henry at work:


                              • #16

                                This time HB-XTO spraying vineyards:


                                • #17

                                  Michael Cuttell's Sud Est SE3130 Alouette II V-54 cn 1897 (G-BVSD) as photographed attending the 2014 Dawlish Airshow in Devon on 23rd August (Photo: Mark Kwiatkowski)


                                  • #18
                                    Lama Down: Italy

                                    I am sorry to report that last Sunday we lost a Lama in Italy. Mercifully however, no one was killed and, from what I understand, the injuries sustained were not life-threatening.

                                    The accident involved a Lama belonging to Airstar Elicotteri of Mottalciata in the Province of Biella in Piedmont and occurred last Sunday 21st at Roccapietra, Varallo (also in Piedmont) during their annual airshow.

                                    From what I have understood, the Lama, I-PITO, was involved in providing pleasure flights at the airshow when it encountered a problem resulting in a hard (or forced) landing. The aircraft had a full compliment of passengers (4) on board the youngest of whom (16 years) was taken to hospital with chest injuries.

                                    I-PITO which crashed in Roccapietra last Sunday

                                    The wreckage is lifted in preparation for being removed

                                    Additional still shots appear in the video below:


                                    • #19
                                      Cheetah Down: India

                                      I am sorry to report that an Indian Army HAL Cheetah has crashed this morning (1st October) in the Northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

                                      The accident took place at around 7.45 am, when the Cheetah was returning to Bareilly Air Base in north India after completing a reconnaissance flight over the Indo-China border in Munsiyari, Pithoragarh. The sortie had been ordered by senior Army officials in the wake of intelligence reports citing a build-up on Chinese troops in the border region.

                                      Shortly before landing, the aircraft contacted Bareilly air base announcing a technical difficulty. However, before the helicopter could reach the base it crashed and caught fire.

                                      Two pilots, Major Abhijit Thapa (29) and Captain Avinash (26) plus an engineer, Major Vikas Baryani (29), were killed in the crash.

                                      The Indian Army Cheetah which crashed this morning

                                      A HAL Cheetah similar to that which crashed today

                                      Video report from India:


                                      • #20

                                        Lamas for Afghanistan

                                        State-owned Indian helicopter manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) is to deliver three Cheetal light helicopters to Afghanistan’s air force next month.

                                        The unarmed helicopters will be transferred via commercial cargo plane to Kabul airport from the company’s Bengaluru-based helicopter division.

                                        HAL's Cheetal is being delivered to Afghanistan

                                        The Cheetal is a re-engined variant of the Cheetah, a license-produced version of the Aérospatiale Alouette II-based SA-315 Lama.

                                        The Cheetal is powered by a Turbomeca TM 333 2M2 turboshaft, which generates 1,100shp (820kW). This is double the 550shp generated by the Artouste III B that originally powered the Chetak, HAL’s license-produced version of the Aérospatiale Alouette III, or SA-316.

                                        The modern engine allows operations up to 23,000ft with a greater payload and improved fuel efficiency. The type’s range and endurance increase to 345nm (640km) and almost 4 hours respectively.

                                        The Indian Air Force last year received its last Cheetal from a 10-strong order placed in 2006. The service operates the helicopter for high-altitude missions.

                                        The Indian Army ordered 20 additional Cheetal's last year

                                        Also last year the Indian Army placed a new order for 20 Cheetals, in February 2013, with deliveries expected to be complete by 2017.

                                        HAL says it has manufactured more than 347 Chetak and 275 Cheetah helicopters since license production began in Bengaluru 45 years ago; more than were produced by



                                        • #21

                                          Toho Aviation SA315B Lama JA9193 as seen at Shinshu Matsumoto Airport in the central highlands of Japan on 3rd October 2012


                                          • #22
                                            More Lamas in Japan ..

                                            Toho Aviation's SA315B JA9192 as seen near the central highlands of Japan on 3rd May 2009 (Photo: みいさんさん)


                                            • #23
                                              More JA9192 ..

                                              Out of the mist she loomingly flew,
                                              that Nippon-based Lama, 9192.

                                              The cloud so encased her, all and around,
                                              for she approached while making, hardly a sound.

                                              Her spectators did greet her, with 'Oooh and with Ahhh',
                                              as they marveled her landing, not a stroke over par!


                                              • #24

                                                Last Lama in PNG

                                                Papua New Guinea's last Lama, P2-PHP, made its final flight on 8th November according to pilot Chris Green who took her to a mountain-top radio repeater site for her final sortie. Rumours are that her engine is out of hours and with Artouste overhaul prices being what they are, owners Pacific Helicopters are planning to retire her.

                                                SA315B P2-PHP makes its final flight in Papua New Guinea on 8th November 2014 (Photo: Chris Green)

                                                During my time with Pacific there were three Lamas in the fleet. Sad to see the last one go.


                                                • #25
                                                  Air Walser's Lama I-FLAX in Oman:


                                                  • #26

                                                    Air-Glaciers Alouette III's HB-XOE and HB-ZEQ at Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland on 15th January 2011 (Photo: Werner Kratz)

                                                    HB-ZEQ at Lauberhorn a year later:

                                                    Air-Glaciers SA316B Alouette III HB-ZEQ at Lauberhorn in Switzerland in January 2012 (Photo: Lukas Röster)


                                                    • #27

                                                      SE313B Alouette II F-GDUE as seen at Courchevel on 16th January 2003 (Photo: Markus Herzig)


                                                      • #28

                                                        Air Glaciers SA315B HB-XEO as seen at Lauberhorn in Switzerland on 18th January 2015 (Photo: Alexander Wagner)


                                                        • #29
                                                          HB-XRL landing at Sion in January:

                                                          Ah .. the music of the inimitable Artouste IIIB!


                                                          • #30

                                                            HB-XPJ's Final Flight

                                                            Air Zermatt’s SA315B Lama, HB-XPJ, has flown her final flight. The flight occurred at the end of March.

                                                            The aircraft had reached her airframe TBO, and Air Zermatt announced that it was no longer viable to put her through overhaul. XPJ's work will now be performed by one of Air Zermatt's 'B3' Ecureuils.

                                                            HB-XPJ was manufactured by Sud Aviation, Marignane in 1973 and was thereafter delivered to Norway where she flew as LN-OSO. In 1977 she returned to France where she was registered as F-GAML flying with Air Affaires. In 1980 she was sent to Malaysia where she flew as 9M-SAB, and in 1985 she was sold to Switzerland. She initially served with Rhein Helikopter, and later with Hélicoptère Service who bought her in 1998. She finally joined Air Zermatt in November 2003.

                                                            During her career, HB-XPJ flew 14,037 hours and made 18,300 landings.

                                                            Air Zermatt's SA315B Lama HB-XPJ (cn 2368) performed her last flight in March 2015 (Photo: Air Zermatt)

                                                            HB-XPJ on her final flight (Photo: Air Zermatt)

                                                            Below: HB-XPJ as seen while with Hélicoptère Service