My impromtu visits to terra-firma with trusty steed extended to one embarassing moment whilst returning a LongRanger to UK from the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo in '84 (actually one of several come to think of it - an interesting trip that!). I was breaking my neck for a pee and my dear colleague Cliff the trusty engineer helped me out when we plopped down in a snow covered meadow in Switzerland. I hopped out whilst Cliff held the controls and quickly took care of business. As we lifted I took stock of our 'footprint' - two skid-marks, two boot-marks and a piss-hole in the snow. It definitely had the whiff of an alien visit and I wonder what the farmer made of it next time he checked his land? I had visions of a witch-hunt in the local papers and then being hunted down by the cops. Never heard a thing. Jolly japes!
G-AYTF entered the Skyline stable just ahead of TALY still wearing her previous owners (Lotus) colours which were those of the tobacco brand John Player (JPS).
My only ever experience of a total engine failure was in AYTF when, approx. 20 mins out from the Lotus base at Hethel in Norwich, she kicked in a left yaw immediately followed by the sound of her little turbine winding down.
My godfather, who was engrossed in unfolding maps at the time, instantly took control guiding the 'Dancer' through a perfectly executed auto from approx. 900ft agl (low cloud base) and landed her across the furrows of a newly ploughed field.
The field's owner dismounted his tractor in a neighbouring field and casually strolled across posing the question, "Can I help you?" I think he thought we had become lost!
Anyway, Manfred Mann came to the rescue. I don't recall the name of the pilot but, he wore Wellingtons which, although strange to observe while he was flying, were most practical! It may not have been Geoff but must, I am sure, have been one of his colleagues.
When my godfather called Chapman (from the farmer's house) to relay the event his response was "Bloody well done! Get on a flight out to Imola (the location of the Italian Grand Prix where we were headed with the Dancer) as I want to buy you a drink!"
Colin Chapman astride a Lotus Esprit (the type used in the film 'The Spy Who Loved Me' where John Crewdson flew a 206 wearing a wig) at the Lotus airfield in Hethel. G-PRIX in the background sporting the John Player colours which were also worn by G-AYTF and which were the inspiration for TALY's repaint when bought by Freddie Starr.
although for Crewdson’s ship this would presumably have been for a short time, perhaps just for the period of filming alone! Do you happen to know the registration of that helicopter?
Buggah! I flew that one and I'm damned if I can remember the callsign. That logbook was burned in a removal van fire during a house move a few years ago, along with the photocopies, so I can't even look it up.
It was dressed up like a raspberry ripple when I flew it, just before it was crated up and sent out Zimbabwe to haul ballot boxes in their first election. 1980 IIRC.
One of my memories of it was an occasion when I became intensely suspicious of a couple of very dodgy looking characters who wanted to charter the aircaft for an hour. There was something not right about them. On the pretext of asking the gingerbeers about something or other, I phoned the Special Branch cops over at the terminal building. They rapidly showed up with some uniformed buddies and arrested the pair. Turned out that they were IRA and had intended to hijack me to spring a mate of theirs from prison.
Brilliant catch. As soon as I saw the 'YF letters in your photo I had a head-slapping moment.
You can see why I called it the raspberry ripple. It was somewhat akin to the ghastly new Technicolor Yawn paintscheme which was inflicted upon the BEAS 212s circa 1977 when the company was taken over by Brand X.
I guess that photo was taken around Spring 1980 as it's got the high skids. They were put on for the AM contract in Zimbabwe as the job involved much landing in tall grass at the outer polling stations in de bush.
I remember making a bit of an arse of a practice auto in that thing as I stoofed the heels of the skids into the ground in a badly misjudged flare during my first flight with the new skids. No damage, other than to my pride.
Wearing a loaded pistol one one's hip when flying a G-reg aircraft was a bit of a novelty! It was a contractual stipulation, in case of any electoral unpleasantness. I think it was the UK Foreign Office (client) who insisted on that. Heaven forfend that anything like election monkey business should happen in Comrad Robert's socialist workers paradise!
Going back to John Crewdson, the Bond film in '80 required him to fly Yankee Fox through a disused warehouse on the banks of the Thames. John had something like 360 film credits to his name, in an immensely wide variety of roles, but that one really spooked him. He was very nervous about the expected recirculation effects.
I seem to recall that he declined the job and handed it over to Marc Wolfe.
Edited to add:
I've found a video of the job which Marc Wolfe did.
Dunno why a JetBanger starts to sound like a Stuka in a VNE dive when you push the nose down though! Yankee Fox never sounded like that.
I was the guilty party who purchased Lord Grosvenor's (Duke of Westminster) Jetranger and recall his lordship being absolutely adamant that the Reg G-TALY be removed the instant I returned to my Skyline base at Wycombe. As a new business I began registering our sales acquisitions SKY hence quite a few machines had those last three letters in the early 1980s. I think I got as far as G-WSKY on an Enstrom Shark. My co-directors were the irrepressable Trevor Taylor ( a superb pianist) and the innovative inventer Peter Millward.
During the purchase negotiations I flew with Ken D when the estate was operating a Piper Twin-Com but would need to check my log book for the CAA reg. I recall the whole estate was surrounded by its own airfield.
A little earlier, I purchased Colin Chapman's B-206, G-AYTF which as noted was dressed in the colours of JPS. I was happy to retain the black and gold scheme in view of the annual tobacco sponsorship attached. Mr Chapman's pilot in those days was Mike Hamlin (if you're out there Mike - my best wishes) later the Hamlin Jet business. Earlier I had sold Chapman ... of all things ... an Enstrom 28A model, G-BAWI and as a first demo flew the great man from Hethel down to the river where his newly acquired Sunseeker business was based. I gave him a few lessons before Mike Hamlin took over. TF boasted the Collins 841H autopilot as noted earlier. I think Chapman sold the Enstrom to Roger Windley. Serial No 120.
As also noted here, a later purchase was the B206 G-WIZZ purchased from the Robinson lawyer firm following its heavy landing at LBA. The purchase price didn't exceed £20k. My engineering division rebuilt her and following the offer of further sponsorship, she was also painted to match G-AYTF.
Now here's a quirk for you all. Following the paint, a local signwriter was called in to attach the registration. No plastic numbers in those days. On the right hand side he set out the letters as G-WIIZZ. And like the well known 'PARIS IN THE THE SPRING',' phrase not a single person ever spotted the error or at least brought it to my attention, even after I'd been flying the machine for almost a year!
Okay ... so I'm a mine of useless information but I didn't start the drift!!!!
Oh and thinking and rambling a bit more, my firm also bought and operated G-AWJW ... and correct me if I'm wrong but seem to remember collecting it all of half a mile from the Col Bob Smith's (he of the white gloves) hangar at Shoreham to our hangar in the south east corner.
More drift ...anyone know what happened to the Hughes 500 I purchased from Nigeria registered G-OVPP (Go Vote Peoples Party.) I know a sabotage attempt was made on the machine while she was flying for the elections.
Geoff I've PM'd you Speechless' email address (the chap you did S61 sim training with - evidently someone knocked a switch and the craft went from standstill to 100kts straight at a hangar but .. Speechless managed to overcome the obstacle .. to your joint amusement).
Anyway, I'm fairly confident he shall be able to assist with hosting - I mean he's ex-Ferranti so the culture of hospitality is ingrained!
MPR: You are quite right, the JCB 206 is departing Battersea the corner of the old pre-fab terminal building just visible on the left. I think Carl Beaman may have tried to re-furbish it, if not then Noel Edmonds.
Low Flier: This image of Crewdson seems to be inconsistent with what I was told about him - in that he was always portrayed as 'fearless' when it came to such things and so for him to hand over the work to Marc seems extraordinary but, I believe you, for I did not know the man personally. My godfather always spoke well of John and I think that HH ended up buying at least one aircraft from Ferranti.
Speechless: The Rhodesian operation seems to have been quite comprehensive (by any standards). Could you shed some more light on the op, how many aircraft in total, for how many months, which aircraft (and how many) were used to transport the 206's etc.
It looks like there are two aircraft from Air Hanson. Do you happen to know who the blue 206 belonged to?
Dennis: You were one of my boyhood hero's! I first met you when I was ten (it was at the Biggin Hill Airfair) and I pleaded with my godfather to let me meet you which we did at the Enstrom tent. Needless to say, I was enthralled by your wingovers and 'bucket carrying' displays which I came to see many times over the years.
My godfather had nicknames for everyone; you were 'Dennis the Menace' and which I found comical given that back then you were flying G-BENO, Beano of course being the publication in which DTM featured! The fact that DTM's jumper and G-BENO were black and red only added to the fascination (I was 10 remember).
It is because of you that my godfather (he of the white gloves) sent me to Skyline to do my PPL. You were there when Col. B dropped me off but then you seemed to be away for some time (working on some project) but, you left me in good hands, in this case those of the late Anthony 'Nobby' Clarke who one day asked me to look closely at the side of a recently painted 206 and posed the question 'do you see anything wrong?' to which I initially replied 'no' but seeing the disapproval in his face promptly re-examined the aircraft and eventually spotted the double 'ii' painting error to which you referred.
You created no small havoc naming all the aircraft 'SKY' because everything in the circuit soon became 'KY' and which caused the control tower and surrounding zones to accept the first letter only and the balance read as the word sky! TALY for example became 'Charlie Sky' over the airwaves.
Please tell me that after all these years of promoting Enstroms that Enstrom Corporation have given you your own mount to park on your lawn!
After I finished with Skyline I left the UK and was told that Richard Branson was going to set up corporate helicopter operations at Booker - did that ever happen?
Dennis Kenyon aka 'Dennis the Menace' during his display at Biggin Hill on 14 May 1977.
G-BENO at an unknown location in 1978
The Beano comic depicting Dennis the Menace and reflecting the same colours as G-BENO!
This image of Crewdson seems to be inconsistent with what I was told about him - in that he was always portrayed as 'fearless'
I've never ever heard of John being described that way.
I'd quite certainly never fly with any pilot who was/is fearless, not knowingly anyway.
This wonderful forum has some quite extraordinary pilots, some of whom I'm in awe. Kenyon and Farley are two such examples.
I doubt very much that either of those two examples could reasonably be described as fearless. Fearlessness is quite incompatible with safe and competent flying, in my opinion.
John Crewdson was an extraordinarily precise pilot. He did a lot of show flying which was right on the edge, but I would not say that he was fearless.
After his Gibraltar whoopsie, in which he crashed a plankwing into the harbour thru a fuel tank selection whoopsie, he lost much of his spleen in life-saving surgery. For a spirited drinker such as John, that would have been a wakeup call if he'd been a reckless kinda guy.
He continued to fly with great spirit. I mean that in the best possible way!