Westland WS-55 Whirlwind Series 1, G-ANFH, c/n WA/15, was built in 1954, powered by a single 600 hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp R-1340-40 nine-cylinder radial piston engine.
It was the third WS-55 to be built in Yeovil for civil use. With eight passenger seats it was delivered to the BEA Helicopter Unit on 2nd November 1954, named "Sir Ector" and used for experimental scheduled services between Heathrow airport and Southampton, carrying the red and black BEA livery of the day.
Other inter-city routes were operated by BEA for short periods, using G-ANFH and two other WS-55s, but none proved successful financially, though valuable experience was gained.
|Scheduled passenger services came to an end in 1956 and the Unit had then to rely entirely on charters for its income. In 1960 G-ANFH was used in a feature film starring Dean Martin and Ann-Margret, "Murderers Row", a Matt Helm comedy with flying scenes set in the Côte d'Azur.|
Still in BEA livery, G-ANFH was used for
crop-spraying demonstrations in 1959 (below) and, on 9th September 1961, carried
the Golden Jubilee Mail between Hendon and Windsor (left). This
event commemorated the first aerial post to Windsor in 1911.
In 1963 G-ANFH took part in one of the infamous Farne Islands seal culls and appeared in the Joseph Losey film "The Damned", with Oliver Reed.
|G-ANFH was employed as a camera platform to photograph the introduction of Sikorsky S-61s on the new Penzance - Isles of Scilly route in 1964 and, in the same year, appeared in the final scenes of the Beatles film "A Hard Day's Night". In July 1966, it was flown to Brands Hatch to be available as an air ambulance for the British Grand Prix.|
|Having flown over 4000 hours with BEA, Sir Ector,
was sold to Autair Helicopter Services in April 1969 but was acquired, a few weeks later,
by Bristow Helicopters and used for pilot training, crop-spraying and, based
at Blackpool, providing support for Gulf Oil's early offshore oil and gas
exploration in the Irish Sea.
When its C.of A. expired in 1971 G-ANFH was stored at Bristow's North Denes base, near Great Yarmouth, until transferred to Redhill in 1977. It was soon acquired for The Helicopter Museum and was moved to Weston-super-Mare in 1978, where it remains in outside storage. No restoration has been attempted.
|Please note that, for safety reasons, this machine is not on display for visitors.|
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