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The Rotary Nostalgia Thread

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  • Nice work Helipixman! I could think of a dozen captions for your picture, what about "Spray it again Sam!"


    • More Classic Dauphin

      G-BKXK AS 365N C/N 6096 owned by Marconi Co Ltd, here seen being refitted at McAlpine's base at Hayes heliport, mid 1985 after its initial repaint at McAlpine's / HPB Aviation at Luton. Please note the use of the orange and blue colours in the paint scheme. These colours would be later used on the BAE125 fleet owned by MAGEC Aviation at Luton (MA-Marconi–GEC-General Electric Co).

      The reason for the picture was to show how many fitters you could fit inside a Dauphin at once!!!! But when you were only armed with a small paint brush to carry out some remedial work you did not stand a chance........


      • Ah .. the Marconi ship! This is a lovely shot Adrian, well done.

        As you say, quite a number of people clambering over this craft at the same time!

        I suppose you must also have seen McAlpine's little red and white Gazelle at the Hayes hangar from time-to-time?

        G-BXXK did of course go on to become Peter de Savary's runabout and is seen in the photo below wearing his 'Land Leisure' company logo on the tail:

        Peter de Savary's SA365N Dauphin2 G-PDES (cn 6096) as seen at Farnborough on 10th September 1988
        (Photo: By the celebrated RA Scholefield)

        Seen here three years after Adrian's shot.

        Maybe we can bring Elipix in on this craft by asking whether he was aware of an initiative by McAlpines in the late 80's - early 90's called 'Highland Air Services' and to whom this craft was registered in 1990.


        • I am delighted to introduce some wonderful Whirlwind photos by Bill Fisher who has most graciously granted his approval for them to be shown on Aviafora:


          Westland WS-55 Mk1 G-ANFH (cn WA15) as seen in 1965 (Photo: Bill Fisher)

          Bill is uncertain of the location of this shot so, if anyone has any clues, please do chip in and send me a message. You can email me at

          Westland S-55 Whirlwind Series 1 G-ANFH, WA15, was built in 1953 and was powered by a single 600 hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp R-1340-40 nine-cylinder radial piston engine. She was the third S-55 to be built in Yeovil for civilian use and was configured with an eight passenger interior. On 2nd November 1954 she was delivered to BEA who named her "Sir Ector" and initially used her for trial scheduled services between Heathrow and Southampton.

          Other inter-city routes were operated by BEA using G-ANFH and two other WS-55's, though none proved to be financially viable.

          In 1959 G-ANFH participated in a series of crop-spraying demonstrations and on 9th September 1961 she carried the Golden Jubilee mail between Hendon and Windsor, and which event commemorated the world's first scheduled delivery of airmail on the same route in 1911.

          Other missions which G-ANFH engaged in while employed by BEA included serving as a camera ship during the introduction of the Sikorsky S-61 on the Penzance-Scilly Isles route in 1964 and, in the same year, appearing in the final scenes of the Beatles film "A Hard Day's Night". In July 1966 she was flown to Brands Hatch to be available as an air ambulance during the British Grand Prix.

          Between her time with BEA and Bristow, to whom she was sold in April of 1969, G-ANFH was purchased by Bill Armstrong's Autair who might just have brokered the sale between BEA and Bristow. At the time of her purchase by Bill she had logged some 4,000 hours.

          During her service with Bristows, 'FH' was based for a time at Blackpool where she provided support for Gulf Oil's early offshore oil and gas exploration in the Irish Sea.


          Westland WS-55 Mk 3 G-AOCZ (cn WA115) as seen at Redhill in June 1965 (Photo: Bill Fisher)

          This Westland S-55 Series 3 WA113 was first registered to Westland Aircraft in May 1955 and then sold a decade later to Bristows in April of 1965. While with Bristows she seems to have embarked on overseas missions in Iran and Bermuda.

          Bill's photo places her at Redhill (on contract to Plessey) just two months before her departure for Iran.


          Westland Whirlwind HCC Mk 12 G-RWWW (cn WA418) as seen near Tattershall in Lincoln in August 1993 (Photo: Bill Fisher)

          This Westland Whirlwind HCC Mk12 WA418 was built by Westlands in 1964 and was quite possibly the first production Mk12. The same year she was delivered to the RAF where she flew as XR486 serving with the Queen's Flight alongside sister ship XR487.

          Most cite the Whirwind as being the first helicopter used for Royal Flying whereas this achievement belongs to the venerable Dragonfly which began performing such duties ten years earlier in 1954.

          Bill's photo places 'Triple Whisky' with Roger Windley who owned her from 1990 until the end of 1993. The craft now rests at the Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare.

          With our sincere thanks to Bill for these fantastic photos!


          • 'Operation Musketeer' - The Suez Crisis

            Westland WS-55/Whirlwinds of the joint RAF/Army unit which operated alongside Royal Navy helicopters, as seen aboard the flight deck of HMS Theseus, during 'Operation Musketeer' in 1956

            Royal Navy Westland WS-55 Whirlwind helicopters taking the first men of 45 Royal Marine Commando into action at Port Said from the commando carrier HMS Theseus (R64) during 'Operation Musketeer' in November 1956

            Royal Navy Westland WS-55 as seen near the Casino Palace Hotel at Port Said in Egypt on 9th November 1956 (Photo: Terry Fincher)

            A somewhat tragic photo involving a Royal Navy WS-55 performing medevac and body recovery duties during the Suez Crisis.


            • Venezuelan Nostalgia

              Venezuelan Air Force Bell 206B JetRanger III GN-7956 as seen at Miami's Opa Locka Airport on 29th September 1979
              (Photo: RA Scholefield)

              Pictured prior to delivery to the Guardia Nacional Venezuela.

              Almost certainly the first JetRanger III delivered to Venezuela.


              • Sikorsky S-76A G-BIBG (cn 76-0083) as seen at Middle Wallop on 17th July 1988 (Photo: Paul Thallon)

                This craft initially served with BCalH in 1980 before becoming a member of the Bristow fleet when Bristows bought BCal. She served in Nigeria for a time (between 2000-2003) prior returning to the UK to serve in the North Sea until 2009.


                • Gerry in Monaco

                  British singer Engelbert Humperdinck seen arriving aboard a yacht in Monaco in the summer of 1976 courtesy of a Bell 206

                  Engelbert has raised funds for UK-based air ambulance charities and is (so we are told) an all round good egg!

                  Well done Gerry!
                  ~ ~ ~

                  And a repeat from the previous page in tribute to the late 'Wogie'

                  Michael Terence Wogan
                  3rd August 1938 - 31st January 2016



                  • Was Terry Wogan in a helicopter that suffered some kind of incident or accident in the distant past, possibly in Ireland?

                    When news broke last week of his passing, a friend of his was on Irish radio recalling Terry and the good times they shared. The incident above was mentioned. Unfortunately I only came into the room half way through this story and so only heard a part of the story. It seemed to involve a helicopter and a tree! The way the interviewee tells the story, the helicopter crash-landed into a tree and moments later the same helicopter managed to extract itself from its improvised landing pad and make a safe landing on terra firma!!!!! The interviewee heaped praise on the skills of the pilot and he must indeed have been a skilful aviator if he was able to extract his machine from its precarious perch.

                    I'm sure the gentleman on the radio would have been even more impressed with the pilot's stick-twiddling if he had managed to miss the tree altogether.

                    500 Fan.

                    P.S. If anyone knows the real story behind this tale, please share it. It sounds interesting.


                    • Yes such an incident did occur. In fact Terry mentioned it in his book 'Wogan's Ireland' an excerpt from which reads:

                      My other memory of Waterford is the fog that enveloped the helicopter that was taking me to Dublin for a meeting with the then Taoiseach (prime minister), the infamous Charlie Haughey. I'd been hosting a charity 'celeb-am' golf day at Waterford Golf Club, in, it must be admitted, lovely weather, and the bold Charlie had expressed a desire to meet me. And indeed, since one of his sons had a helicopter company that was helping to ferry our 'celebs' back and forth, I hopped aboard for the trip to Dublin.

                      Unfortunately, the Celtic mist had closed in by the time we started, but the Taoiseach was not to be disappointed, and off we went, flying so low that we could easily have had the horns off a tall cow. When we hit a tree, wiser counsels, having let off high-pitched screams of panic, decided that we should head back to Waterford. (Not to land safely and wait for the fog to lift - this is Ireland). The pilot found the railway line to Dublin and followed it all the way to the capital. The Taoiseach was pleased to see me, but not half as pleased as I was, having been convinced I would never see home and mother again.
                      I don't know who was driving at the time, but the two 'obvious' guesses would be either Ciarán Haughey or John Barnicle but it may have been one of their other drivers. It sounds as though the driver may have 'clipped' a tree without causing any serious damage, and then pushed on.

                      I have a similar story (less the tree clipping) coming into Dublin to pick-up Charlie with Vincent O'Brien's 206, EI-BFK. I had managed to get us (the Colonel and I) fully IMC, and which predicament met with the Colonel's very calm but nonetheless disapproving shake of the head. Mercifully the morning was saved by the graces of the Dublin Director who vectored us to the airport in professional tones, from where we proceeded under Special VFR to the PM's residence.

                      As mentioned afore, yours truly had a hand in convincing the late Charlie to have his very first 'go' at helicopter flying. This was between 'The Inis' (aka Inishvickillane, the southernmost of the Blasket Islands) and Dingle in County Kerry. Charlie had a keen hand and didn't 'wobble' at all, and there wasn't even any friction on the cyclic! But, he was already an accomplished sailor and which, I suspect, may have helped.

                      Regarding Terry, he shall be much missed.


                      • Thanks for setting the record straight, Sav. I think the gentleman on the radio "embellished" the tale just a tad. Thankfully everyone made it home that day.


                        • Seeing as I mentioned John Barnicle:

                          Here's a shot of John at the controls of an Irish Helicopters JetRanger at their Westpoint Hanagar, taken just after we had arrived from Ballydoyle at a time when Vincent's craft was down for maintenance.

                          While not entirely sure of the ship, it is quite likely the newly arrived (as she was then) EI-BIJ, which had been purchased from Mann's earlier in the year (ex-G-BCVZ).

                          Photo c. June 1980.


                          • España

                            ENA Agusta-Bell 206B JetRanger III EC-DUA (cn 8665) as seen at Colmenar Viejo, Spain, on 16th October 1989
                            (Photo: Fred Willemsen)


                            • Hiller UH-12C G-AOZS (cn 848) as seen at Cambridge Bourn Airport on 28th June 1961 (Photo: Mike Hines)

                              Originally purchased by Fison Airwork in 1957, this craft went on to be registered to Bristows and then Management Aviation. Seen above while with Bristows, but wearing British United Airways titles.

                              British United's involvement with helicopters began as a collaboration between Airwork and a company called Fisons. Fison had started out as Pest Control Limited in 1945. Negotiations between Airwork and Fisons Pest Control bore fruit in May 1955 when the two companies agreed to start a joint venture, Fison-Airwork.

                              Airwork had been undertaking various pest control activities in Africa with fixed-wing aircraft and it was a market that Fisons were already serving with their eight Hiller Helicopters, Fisons also provided the insecticides used. Airwork brought their charter and airline experience to the company; they would later open a helicopter pilot training school which also offered ground maintenance courses. Fisons-Airwork were based at Cambridge Airport, where Fison’s helicopter fleet operated from.

                              Fison-Airwork made their first helicopter passenger flight in late May 1955 when Billy Butlin, of Butlins Holiday Parks, chartered one of their Hillers to fly him from London to Bolton to open a new sports pavilion.

                              Fison-Airwork’s operations grew steadily and by May 1959, they were operating 28 Hiller’s on crop-spraying contracts worldwide, five Whirlwinds in Nigeria on oil operations and some fixed wing spraying-aircraft in a subsidiary they started in Australia. By the end of 1959 Fison-Airwork were the largest helicopter operator, operating both at home and abroad.

                              In January 1960 Airwork Ltd bought out Bristow Helicopters with their fleet of 26 helicopters and a few small fixed-wing aircraft.

                              Soon after there followed the Airwork and Hunting-Clan merger announcement on 1st March 1970, and Fisons left their partnership with Airwork, citing the move towards passenger airline operations was not a direction they could follow. In April 1960 the name British United Airways was announced.

                              Bristow Helicopters had started out as Air Whaling in 1952, and Alan Bristow would often fly with whaling fleets as an advance spotter for the whaling ships. Though he was a Westland test pilot, after his Royal Navy service in WWII. Air Whaling became Bristow Helicopters in 1953 and were based in Somerset. They continued to grow their business, with work continuing in the Antarctic, various contracts supporting the oil industry in many parts of the world and increasing passenger work from Battersea heliport.

                              The Airwork takeover of Bristows happened just as they were planning their relocation to Redhill Aerodrome. This move was due to the increase in work from the Battersea Heliport, necessitating that Bristows be closer to it and by March 1960 they were on the move from Henstridge Airfield (Somerset) to Redhill. Fison-Airwork were due follow them to Redhill from Cambridge shortly afterwards on 13th April 1960, but Fison left the business before that planned move could happen.

                              Bristow Helicopters merged into the British United Group on 1st July 1960. Though they retained their identity and operated in co-ordination with Airwork’s helicopter fleet within the BUA Group. Airwork's helicopter fleet became the BUA helicopter fleet, though eventually all helicopter operations were passed to Bristows

                              Hiller UH-12B G-APKY (cn 673) as seen at Cranfield Aerodrome on 26th June 1961 (Photo: Mike Hines)

                              This craft is also an ex-Fison bird having entered service with the company in 1958. She was then registered to 'Airwork' (as per the above narrative) and then to a Basil Henry Arkell before being purchased by the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield in 1961 when the above photo was taken.


                              • US Army Nostalgia

                                An enjoyable documentary produced by the US Army in 1957, charting rotary-wing development and operations.


                                • S-76A G-BZAC as seen departing Beccles Airfield in Suffolk on 24th July 1988 (Photo: Paul Cossey)

                                  Seen here having been sold to British International Helicopters but still wearing her former BA livery.


                                  • Westland WS-55 Series 3 G-APWN (cn WA298) as seen at Redhill in September 1964 (Photo: Mike Hines)

                                    Registered to Westland Aircraft in September 1959, then to Bristows in February 1963. While with Bristows she seems to have ventured to both Nigeria and Bermuda and doubtless many other places too. She was cancelled from the regiter in 1981.


                                    • One for Wiggy!

                                      MBB Bo105 DBS-4 G-SPOL (cn S.392) as seen at Glasgow's Prestwick Airport on 6th June 1992 (Photo: Roger Richards)

                                      Seen above being operated by Bond Helicopters on contract to Strathclyde Police. This craft now flies at G-TVAM for the South Georgia Heritage Trust and has been employed in the eradication of rodents!


                                      • Thank you for your kind wishes on my birthday - lots of nostalgia and a fair bit of Vino! D

                                        I still unable to post pictures from my computer even though they are JPG. Help section did not help.....................


                                        • Savoia
                                          Savoia commented
                                          Editing a comment
                                          For now you may email any photos to and I will add them to your post. Brgds and many happy returns, Sav.

                                      • Navy Nostalgia

                                        A pair of Wessex from No. 848 Naval Air Squadron in flight over Borneo on 18th June 1965


                                        • Heli France SA365C1 Dauphin 2 F-GBEP (cn 5043) as seen over Paris (date unknown)


                                          • Bell 47G G-ARIA (cn D6) as seen in Hannover, Germany on 4th May 1968

                                            I had the pleasure of seeing this helicopter many times during the 1970's. Owned and operated by the Decca Navigation Company.

                                            See more G-ARIA here.


                                            • Agusta-Bell 206A G-AWLV (cn 8072) as seen at Farnborough on 11th September 1970

                                              G-AWLV was the 22nd 206 to be registered in the UK and was delivered to Bristow in July 1968. Four years later in 1972 she was shipped to Australia where she flew as VH-BHL.

                                              The first of the two Bell 47's shown in this photo is Decca's G-ARIA.


                                              • Bell 222B N153H as seen at Punchestown Racecourse in Co.Kildare on 26th April 2007

                                                Almost certainly attending the Punchestown Festival.


                                                • Dick Smith's Round the World Flight


                                                  • G-WIZZ

                                                    Agusta-Bell 206B JetRanger II G-WIZZ (cn 8540) as seen at Leavesden Aerodrome in 1981 (Photo: Adrian Batchelor)

                                                    See more WIZZ here.


                                                    • Agusta-Bell 206B JetRanger II G-BGGY (cn 8565) as seen over the Houses of Parliament during the filming of the 'Professionals' c.1980

                                                      Tragically this craft was involved in a fatal accident on 13th September 1984 near Leadbury in Herefordshire claiming the life of the late great John Ackroyd-Hunt.


                                                      • The Magnificent Mi-8

                                                        A two part documentary:


                                                        • A novena of Aussie Navy Wessex

                                                          Sadly, no further details for this photo but what I can say is that the Aussie Navy received their first two Wessex (from a batch of 27) in 1963 and which flew with 817 squadron. Other Aussie squadrons which operated the Wessex were 816, 723 and 725. The serials for these craft were numbered from WA200 to WA226. From what I can determine, these Wessex were withdrawn from active service with the RAN in 1989.


                                                          • I am pleased to be able to post this beautiful photo of John Laing's Bell 222A taken by Aviaforan Adrian Batchelor:

                                                            Bell 222A G-OJLC (cn 47031) as seen at Luton Airport in 1991 (Photo: Adrian Batchelor)

                                                            This craft was photographed fresh from a repaint by HPB Aviation.

                                                            Previously G-NOIR and G-BNDA.

                                                            See more G-OJLC (and other John Laing craft) here.