Savoia - I'm sorry chum but I'm not entirely sure who was the assigned pilot for that flight. Chances are, that unless Eaton Estate recruited their own pilot directly, they probably made use of the distributor (which in this case was Mann's).
What I know is that there were several VIP operations in that area in the late 70's early 80's including the private helicopters for James Bamford (JCB Excavators) and John Broome (Alton Towers).
Savoia - As detailed previously, G-TALY was in the service of tDoW from '79 to '83.
This was TALY's home; Eaton Hall in Cheshire.
Also mentioned previously is that in the early '80's TALY had two contemporaries, also Bell 206's, operated by Alton Towers and JC Bamford Excavators.
The Alton Towers aircraft was based a stone's throw away at Stretton Hall and flown by Capt. Phillip Croucher. The JCB aircraft was a little further away at Uttoxeter and East Midlands and flown by Capt. John 'Chalky' White.
Throughout the decade these aircraft were up-graded to twins, tDoW to a twin squirrel G-TALI, Alton Towers to a Bell 222A G-JLBZ and JCB to an S-76 G-JCBA. These latter two aircraft were maintained by Air Hanson, at Brooklands, where my former employer also had his aircraft serviced. I suppose TALI was maintained by the Aerospatiale (now Eurocopter) distributor which was then McAlpine Aviation at Hayes in Middlesex (near Heathrow).
Some irrelevant information for you: The two TALY/I's were named after tDoW's wife, Natalia, and who is a descendant of the late Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Both aircraft carried the 'wheatsheaf' symbol taken from tDoW's coat of arms and both were fitted to a high standard of finish with executive interior (which you would have seen if you flew TALY) as well as a comprehensive avionics suite.
I honestly don't know whether the Estate still operates a helicopter - I've certainly not heard about it for a while now.
What I am sure of is that His Grace has found much use for fixed wing transportation and now owns a clean looking Citation X (below).
Location: Italy & Cornwall in equal measure - usually
I had the pleasure of ferrying this machine back from the factory in the winter of 1979 with the DoW's pilot Ken (will need to look up the logbook for his surname - think it was Davies). Ken was the Dukes FW pilot and we (AMH) converted Ken to RW so that he could do the business with TALY. If I remember the trip correctly we had a chip light in Switzerland and had to plop down in a field to check the offending chip detector.
EoR: Many thanks for your posts which have proved most interesting, much appreciated! I'm not sure of your association with 'Rochester' but I have links with the town.
Geoff: You conducted the delivery flight? That is interesting. Which Agusta factory did you collect the aircraft from?
I suppose the a/c must only have had a handful of hours and so a chip detection light might not have been entirely unusual. I imagine a new aircraft must have the same susceptability to chips as one which has just had engine work performed. Presumably it was just dirt that caused the warning?
When I flew her (just after she left DoW's service and still carrying her original registration) she still had the comfortable high back leather seating as well as a fairly generous avionics fit (as EoR stated). I think it even had an autopilot and which I guess was fitted by Mann. Did it also have the Decca DANAC navigator? I can't recall.
When you mention training existing staff, I think it was Dennis de Ferranti who had his chauffeur trained to fly his helicopter in Ireland - back in the day. If the story is right, he was terrified of the thing! I think it was a Hughes 500.
Do you know what FW DoW had back then?
Am trying to recall some names from Alan Mann but they are evading me! Were you there long? What is the scene like there today?
S Yes TALY did have an autopilot, and an early one but good nonetheless. The cyclic was not isolated from the servo-actuators, so in hands-off mode it moved around the cockpit correcting attitude and altitude. A little disconcerting! Flew with Ken Davis many times, great pilot. He was officially a 'gardener' since such a position is a claimable expense against the estate. Whereas a pilot isn't.
Your 2nd point about Alan Mann, all is not good there I'm afraid ~ VFR
EoR: I was in fact quite familiar with the Alton Towers operation. Did you know that Col. Bob Smith (ex-Ferranti Helicopters MD) also served as John Broome's pilot for a stint?
VFR: The 'phantom' cyclic I remember. The Alton Towers 206L had, I think, the same autopilot system as TALY (Collins 3 axis if I recall).
Flew with Ken Davis many times, great pilot. He was officially a 'gardener' since such a position is a claimable expense against the estate. Whereas a pilot isn't.
Sorry to hear that all is not well with AM. I've been out of touch with the UK helicopter scene for so many years now (and grateful to the PPRuNe forum for getting me back in touch with old contacts) and guess that things may have changed when they lost the Agusta distributorship but I don't really know.
Would be keen to obtain any decent photos of TALY that might be kicking about as there are precious few online and she was a smart little thing.
Savoia - I am sure there must have been more than one pilot for each of these aircraft to cover leave etc. but, now that you mention it and, after conferring with a former colleague yes, you are absolutely right, Col. Bob Smith did in fact serve as John Broome's pilot for a time.
I do recall seeing him at Brooklands, replete with white gloves, but for some reason had mistakenly assigned him to another operation but now realise it must have been Alton.
If TALY and the Alton aircraft (I don't know the registration of their first helicopter) had autopilots then 'The Midlands Three' (tDoW, Alton & JCB) had one more thing in common in addition to helicopter type and that is a basic flight management system. The JCB aircraft (I think their first) was G-OJCB a 206B and which was fitted with the Ferranti stability system. 'Chalky' visited Brooklands frequently (in fact I am sure all three aircraft came to the city and environs regularly) and I think that 'CB' may also have been fitted with Decca's moving map system to which you referred.
Re: Rochester, I grew up there, my grandfather and father both having worked for Short Brothers. When the Seaplane Works moved to Belfast in the '40's my mother remained in Rochester with my father visiting her once in every six months and eventually I came along. I no longer live there but, I think its hard to undo the emotional links with where one was brought up.
Herewith, one of the Sunderland's my grandfather worked on at Rochester:
Location: Italy & Cornwall in equal measure - usually
I collected TALY from Frosinone, south of Rome. Interesting flight back through Genoa to Milan where we stopped at Cascina Costa to complete export formalities before heading off over the Simplon. I drive that route regularly now and often think of those ferry flights back to Blighty. I did G-WIZZ with John (Courtney)Horscroft, a couple for our own AMH fleet with Chris Hodgkinson and Brian Beale (YP?) - always during the winter when crossing the Alps was challenging. Every VFR ferry flight with a 'green' 206 (no radios, just a portable VHF, no heater) comes with a tale.
As far as I recall the DoW had a small twin piston (Piper I think). Ken had won over the Duke with a professional handling of an engine failure so was made for life.
Writing this from my Camper beside Lago Maggiore so very close to the scene of the action. Bloody rain has just soaked my washing! Summer in the mountains brings such pleasures.
The advancement of more powerful twin engine helicopters and the development of mutli crew all weather operations are necessary and welcome progressions in the helicopter industry.
But, I can't help thinking that the single engine, single pilot, mostly VFR ops of the early days in the UK helicopter scene presented a somewhat greater sense of adventure and personal intamacy with clients which is sometimes missed. Certainly that era evokes many fond memories!
I am sure the trips from Italy to Fairoaks? must have been pleasant/interesting indeed.
Well, if ever you should get the urge to veture into your loft, I can't deny that I'd love to see one or two decent photos of TALY, for old times sake! I guess they would have to be scanned and which I am sure is a pain.
While you are at Maggiore may I recommend:
Ristoranti Elvesia -This is a family run restaurant on the edge of the lake with very warm and friendly atmosphere. They specialise in the preparation of lake fish (I personally think that they are the best) as well as their homemade pasta (look out for their mouthwatering 'primi' dishes).
Isola Bella - This lake island is home to very beautiful gardens with a number of rare plants accommodated by Lago Maggiore's unique micro climate.
Sacro Monte di Ghiffa - And if you are into history then a trip to the 'Sacred Mountain' will offer you an interesting distraction with what is one of the best views of the lake.
I was PM'd by another PPRuNe (ex-RN) a former colleague of yours. He spoke highly of you and noted your skill as a sim instructor, evidently you converted him on the S61.
Well, enjoy your stay here and thanks for the info on TALY.
ps:Wanted to mention (hence the edit) that the Chief Pilot (David Earley) of a company I flew for in Papua New Guinea, was flying a company director in a Hughes 500 and suffered engine failure. He apparently put the thing down (at high altitude) on a tiny road. Similarly it earned him good sted in the company (which is how I understand he was promoted to CP) and remained there until finishing. Just shows that sometimes the least wanted situations can lead to the most desired outcomes!