Army Air 82

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ALTHOUGH the press officer at the International Military Helicopter and Equipment Exhibition in July felt that MOTOR SPORT did not deserve accreditation (surely we are not rivals to Flight International, one of the sponsors!), we nevertheless considered the occasion deserved mention in these pages, especially as it was held in conjunction with the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Army Air Corps at Middle Wallop.

A mouth-watering display awaited helicopter enthusiasts, from early Hoverflies, Sycamores and Skeeters, through the indefatigable Sioux, Gazelle and Scout, to the brand new Westland Lynx 3,5 highly sophisticated machine powered by two Rolls Royce Gem turbine engines, armed with a variety of weapons and equipped with pilot night vision and target sighting.

There were aircraft from various foreign armed forces, including the Huey, Cobra, Super Frelon, Puma and the huge tandem-rotor Chinook, not to mention the wicked-looking Hughes AH64 Apache, a new attack helicopter with the narrow nose indicative of tandem crew seating.

Fixed-wing aircraft were not ignored and there were Beavers, Chipmunks, Austers, a Super Cub from Denmark and even a Sopwith Tabloid among the civilian exhibits. The flying programme, spread over three public days, included the inevitable Spitfire and Hurricane from RAF Coningsby, a Sea Fury, a Swordfish and a Firefly from the RN Historic Flight at Yeovilton, a Meteor and a Vampire from RAF Leeming, a Lancaster, a Dakota and the Shuttleworth Collection’s SE5A. There were many others, of course, too numerous to mention, although the massed helicopter flypast was an amazing and thunderous spectacle.

Some helicopters had seen service in the Falkland Islands and one Westland Gazelle was displayed with markers indicating bullet holes in floor, canopy, tail boom and tail rotor housing.

Housed at the former AKC Cinema at Middle Wallop, but soon to receive more space by expansion if the present appeal provides sufficient funds, is the Museum of Army Flying which contains exhibits from the RFC, the AOP Squadrons of the RAF, the Glider Pllot Regiment, the Joint Experimental Helicopter Unit and the post-1957 Army Air Corps. Even the Jeep fitted with tail fins and a non-driven rotor is on display.

Apart from these exhibits, there are etensive archives which contain original documents, diaries and unit scrapbooks, all fascinating material frequently consulted by researchers.

The museum is open to the public, free of charge, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10.00 to 12.30 and from 13.30 to 16.30, although organised groups can be accommodated outside these times by prior arrangement with the curator, Major D.K.R. Clifton-Moore (tel: Andover 62121, extension 421). — G.P.