A programme for military helicopter folk

  john bunyan 16:38 28 Feb 2013

Tonight on BBC2 at 9.00pm is a programme about the Sea King helicopter. I wish I had a £ for each trip in one... Also see:

Commando Helicopter Force

  Woolwell 17:12 28 Feb 2013

john bunyan - If I had a £ for every hour spent in one .... I've set it to record as I'm out tonight. One of my first flights in one was a brand new Mk1 from Westlands. They have one I flew in regularly at the National Maritime Museum as an exhibit. Made me feel like a museum piece too. There were more ASW Sea Kings than Commando. They were very hot internally in the tropics. I could go on - No 5 engine bearing seal, rotor tips flying off, oil and hydraulic leaks, etc but fast becoming boring!

  john bunyan 17:23 28 Feb 2013


Not boring! I have parachuted out of them, been landed on a submarine casing from one and many other bits of excitement - although not like in a Wessex when a Naval aviator on his last flight before retirement did a loop the loop with 4 of us sat on the deck (floor) with doors open ready to parachute out.... (equally boring to many, I'm sure!!)

  Woolwell 17:37 28 Feb 2013

It would have been a wing over in a Wessex V. onthelimit1 could talk you through it. I was part of a Sea King display team that did several low level wing overs until one of the team nearly crashed and over-torqued the gear box pulling out of it. I can remember every one of the wing overs. No parachutes or ejection seats of course so if something went wrong then you would have had little chance.

I was also a passenger in the first wheels-up landing.

  Woolwell 17:38 28 Feb 2013

Submarine casing transfers could be tricky but not as difficult as direct to the conning tower.

  morddwyd 17:40 28 Feb 2013

Went in a Sea King once.

Then they wanted to move it out of the hangar and I had to get out!

  flycatcher1 17:40 28 Feb 2013

This is written with respect. There I was, upside down, nothing on the clock and still climbing.........

I hated helicopters - far too much gravity for my liking.

Will be watching.

  Woolwell 17:47 28 Feb 2013

More "swinging the lamp" - The thread about American film makers has reminded me of this. UK film makers can also "invent" things/get it wrong. The BBC series of Sailor onboard Ark Royal contained a sequence of an ill american sailor being winched off a submarine and washed off the casing. The sound recording during the actual rescue though broke down and therefore the voices were recorded later. Fine but the commands given do not match what is going on and in some cases the instructions given to the pilot are the exact opposite to that required.

  TopCat® 18:20 28 Feb 2013

I shall definitely be viewing that story tonight.

40 years ago my mate and I were fishing near the shore of Gorran Haven in a 10ft dinghy, loaned to him by a friend. It had a 3hp outboard motor which my mate had attached to the transom by its 'G' clamp. Our intention was to head out to sea but there was high, white-topped waves out there and an off-shore wind. We naturally decided to stay and fish within the confines of the surrounding cliffs.

Getting our fishing gear rigged up my mate got to his feet and his back caught the outboard's tiller. Next minute there was a splash, then silence as the outboard motor sank to the bottom. Obviously my mate hadn't fitted the engine to the boat properly and our only means of propulsion was a pair of oars. No anchor either to drop overboard as we began drifting fast towards the open sea on an ebbing tide!

Took to the oars, but with both of us rowing strongly just couldn't turn the boat. So we broke out into a high running sea with white horse tops and a stronger wind blowing us further out.

At that time there was a manned lookout station at Gorran and I proceeded to lift and wave my oar with my yellow oilskin trousers tied to it. After what seemed an eternity we heard the 'maroons' go off and, as we lifted higher on top of each wave, could see the red smoke and little figures moving about the lookout station.

Time went by and the cliff tops got closer to the sea and the light began to fade. Suddenly a helicopter appeared heading for the lookout station; I was still waving my waterproofs as we climbed up the waves.

Next, the helicopter lifted off and headed towards the cliff's edge, then sank lower as, I thought suddenly, that he was looking for someone trapped on the cliff and not us!! However, it then climbed higher and began a zig-zag path out to sea. After an age it eventually headed in our direction and finally came to a hover above us.

Next thing a pair of legs flashed by and, assuming the guy wanted to land in the boat, I stretched up to grab them. A harness went over my shoulders and I lifted away up from the boat. Looking around I could see marker smoke either side of the dinghy and steaming towards us was the Fowey lifeboat. Reaching the helicopter's hatch the winchman dragged me to the other side of the aircraft and then lowered his mate down to the boat again. Up came my mate who hadn't spoken for some time. The winchman then lowered his mate to the boat once more and he brought up all our fishing gear!!

As we turned towards land the winchman lifted an headphone and asked me where we had set off from. He spoke with the pilot and then told us we were nearly seven miles away from Gorran Haven beach ! When we arrived back and landed we noticed a large crowd had already gathered. Our exploits were all over the local media and even reached the national news!

The next day we both went to Fowey and left a good donation for the crew. There was no salvage claim for the boat, which was tied up at the quayside, as the crew got a call-out fee - 30 shillings a man back then.

I also learned that the Sea King had flown out from Chivenor in Devon to rescue us, as none was available that day at our local Culdrose station. That crew got a grateful bonus from yours truly but I'm afraid my mate never sent anything - probably saved up to replace his mate's lost engine!!

That unforgettable episode in my life taught me a stern lesson about going to sea without the proper life-saving equipment. Can't fully believe we two grown men could be so stupid to put to sea like that. We got away with it that time and lived to learn a hard lesson in the process.

Yes, I'll be watching the Sea King story with great interest tonight. TC.

  onthelimit1 10:22 01 Mar 2013

Wing overs in sea Kings limited to 15 degrees of bank now (if my memory serves me right!). I would NOT want to do a loop in one - not with a fully articulated head. Different in a Lynx - easy peasy!

  flycatcher1 10:22 01 Mar 2013

I enjoyed the programme, the real stars were the two Navy Divers rarely was the George Medal more deserved.

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