Friends of The Helicopter Museum

Museum Helicopters at RIAT 2003

Bristol 171 Sycamore Mk.14, XG547, at RIAT in July 2003
Thanks to Rod Holloway for this photo.

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Whirlwind HCC Mk.12  XR486 - Click to enlarge Westland Lynx  G-LYNX - Click to enlarge

Whirlwind HCC Mk.12 XR486

Westland Lynx G-LYNX
Widgeon 5N-ABW  -  Click to enlarge Bristol 171 Sycamore XG547  -  Click to enlarge

Westland Widgeon G-AOZE 

Bristol 171 Sycamore XG547

The Helicopter Museum loaned four aircraft to the Royal International Air Tattoo 2003 which took place at RAF Fairford, in Gloucestershire UK, over the weekend of 19th-20th July. In addition to the traditional flying displays the Tattoo was celebrating 100 Years of Manned, Powered and Controlled Flight with an exhibition showing airfields of ten themed decades as a backdrop to more than 100 of the world's most famous aircraft.

The Museum contributed the Westland Whirlwind HCC Mk.12, XR486, (above top left) which served with the Queen's Flight from 1964 until 1969, and the Westland Lynx AH.Mk1, G-LYNX, demonstrator (above top right) which set up a new rotorcraft absolute world speed record of 400.87 km/h (249.10 mph) in August 1986, a record which has yet to be broken. Both these helicopters are normally on public display in the main exhibition building of The Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare. G-LYNX was restored, by AgustaWestland apprentices at Yeovil, to its record-breaking configuration and colour scheme and arrived back at The Museum in July 2011.

Also chosen, for RIAT 2003, was the Westland WS-51A Widgeon, G-AOZE/5N-ABW, (above left) built in 1957 and one of several Museum aircraft which were flown by Bristow Helicopters in various parts of the world. It was now nearing the completion of its restoration and went to St.Mawgan, in June, for a few coats of paint before transport to RIAT, still in its unfinished state. As an important part of the Westland and Bristow stories it also illustrated conservation and restoration in progress.

A late entrant, from The Museum's display, was the Bristol 171 Sycamore Mk.14, XG547/G-HAPR, (above right, awaiting collection from The Museum). A 5-seat transport helicopter, built in 1956 at the Bristol company's Weston-super-Mare factory, it served with the RAF in Cyprus, Libya and the UK. It was transported to Yeovilton on 23rd June 2003, by MASU, for a repaint, prior to its appearance at RIAT.

All four helicopters were returned to The Museum on 19th August 2003 and put on public display in the Main Hangar.

XG547 left The Helicopter Museum on 21st February 2008 on its way to the Royal Military Museum in Brussels, where it went on display on 24th February. The Brussels Museum brought an Alouette II to THM in exchange for the Sycamore.

Westland Widgeon - Click to enlarge Helicopter Museum Team - Click to enlarge Westland Lynx -- Click to enlarge

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Photographed at RAF Fairford on 19th July 2003, as part of the Royal International Air Tattoo, were the newly-painted Westland Widgeon (above left), the team of Volunteers from The Helicopter Museum with the Bristol Sycamore and the Queen's Flight Whirlwind (above centre) plus the holder of the helicopter world speed record, the Westland Lynx (above right). Thanks to Alan Norris for these three copyright photographs.
The Volunteers provided coverage through the three days of the show, ensuring that the Museum exhibits were in good order and talking to many of the visitors about the four aircraft and about The Helicopter Museum.