View Full Version : Ferranti Helicopters

10th Jun 2010, 22:35
I am part of a group working on the development of a website detailing the brief but fascinating history of Ferranti Helicopters.

Any contacts with ex-Ferranti personnel as well as material such as documents, media reports and photograps would be greatly welcome along with verifiable stories of the company's operations (1970-79).

Pls blog or PM me.

11th Jun 2010, 12:16
maybe you should try in the Italian forum of this website

11th Jun 2010, 12:54
This sounds interesting. Is this the electronics supplier Ferranti?

11th Jun 2010, 12:56
Nah...Ferranti Helicopters was in the UK ,based at Shoreham ? ,flying a Westland Widgeon at one time I recall and later a Bo105.The chief pilot was Bob Smith ex Bristol Helicopters test pilot who went on to be a naughty boy in South Africa I believe?

11th Jun 2010, 13:15
You'll have checked here? Maybe not. Complete history - it seems.

The National Archives | Access to Archives (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/records.aspx?cat=422-199610_2&cid=1-2-1-3-2#1-2-1-3-2)

11th Jun 2010, 21:23
Heli1 has some of it straight but the responses, in part, qualify the benefits of posting the site.

Ferranti Helicopters was a short lived operation but one which made quite an impact on shaping the future of the UKs executive helicopter scene. Prior to being bought out by British Caledonian in 1979 they operated a fleet of pristine Bell 206s, a pair of BO105's and managed at least half a dozen additional aircraft.

Forget, thank you. This was thoughtful. We are already working with the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester on this project.

11th Jun 2010, 23:25

Yes .... vaguely remember flying an ex Ferranti Bo105D ... and NO the Ferranti SAS installed did NOT work properly ..... :{

14th Jun 2010, 07:38
It goes back further than that. The Ferranti family home was Kerfield House near Knutsford. Sebastian J Z De Ferranti was an early helicopter user with a Brantley B2A. The Company had the Westland Widgeon and a Bell 47 as mentioned.

See this entry from "Flight" in 1967

www.flightglobal.com (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1967/1967%20-%201263.html)

The helipad at Kerfield house featured a hangar with a retractable landing pad - very James Bond.......

14th Jun 2010, 20:51
Speechless - Prior to its incarnation as G-BFYA, this was a Heliswiss bird known as D-HJET seen in the following link at Bern in Switzerland in August 1977 about a year before being delivered to Ferranti:


Photos: MBB BO-105DB Aircraft Pictures | Airliners.net (http://www.airliners.net/photo/Heliswiss/MBB-BO-105DB/0498382/M/)

14th Jun 2010, 23:45

Much of that information is correct-ish!

Send me a PM.

18th Jul 2010, 08:24
We are still keenly searching for images of the following aircraft:


Everything readily available on the web we already have so its the images stored in lofts, garages and log books they we're keen on.

We're also searching for images of those aircraft managed by Ferranti:


Plus ... any verifiable stories from the Ferranti days.


500 Fan
18th Jul 2010, 08:42
Are you interested in Hughes 369HM EI-AVN by any chance?

500 Fan.

18th Jul 2010, 09:13
500 Hi!

AVN was a 500 C model belonging to Sebastian de Ferranti's brother Dennis (who lived in Ireland).

My godfather recalls the story when en-route from visiting Sebastian in Manchester Dennis overflew an army airfield (the name of which escapes my memory) at about 400ft agl without any radio contact.

As soon as Dennis landed at Battersea (I think the controller used to be a chap called Ward?) he said there had been a call from an army base telling him he should call them immediately!

This he did ... to say that he was despatching a car to come collect them to attend a bash he was throwing that evening in London (and was the reason he gave for being in such a hurry and unavailable by radio).

Apparently the entire Army ATC crew attended and, perhaps needless to say, nothing more came of it! What brilliant days they were!

Now, to answer your question: Yes, we are collecting all aircraft related to the Ferranti family (including their fixed wing fleet). Regarding AVN specifically we have the IrishAirPics image of this craft at Galway but, it is such a terrible photo and completely out of focus. If you have something better then ... yes please, it would be most welcome.

I'm PM'ing you my email address in case you are unable to post the photo onto PPRuNe.



18th Jul 2010, 09:31
I haven't seen Bob Smith's name crop up yet he was the first Ferranti chief pilot as I recall...Is he still alive ??

18th Jul 2010, 11:10

Bob Smith ended up becoming a mildly controversial figure in the latter days of his tenure as Ferranti's Managing Director. This was due (in part) to his somewhat unorthodox lifestyle choices and by a certain degree of envy from some of his industry peers. Bob was however held in esteem by Ferranti's loyal clients who revelled in the five star service he created.

You need to imagine the impact Ferranti made pretty much everywhere they went in those pioneering days of executive helicopter aviation. As the business of personalised helicopter transport was growing, and newcomers setting up their operations, in would fly a Ferranti helicopter gleaming in its Dijon yellow colours, which were never permitted to dull or fade, replete with hand crafted interiors of leather, wood and wool (bespoke commissions from Rolly Royce's own suppliers Connelly Brothers and Mulliner Park Ward), white seat belts (so that passengers would have no fear of soiling their garments – which had previously been a concern) and with pilots wearing mohair and wool hand tailored uniforms with solid silver be-jewelled cap badges and ... wait for it ... white gloves!

In retrospect it was perhaps a cruel infliction upon the crews but ... the passengers loved it and as a result of this, and Ferranti’s obsessive commitment to professionalism, the company was propelled, for a time, to the fore of British executive helicopter aviation and, in many cases set standards which were to become benchmarks for an entire industry.

Bob joined Ferranti in 1964 flying their first helicopter, a Westland Widgeon G-APVD, in which he conducted test flying on the various aircraft flight systems being developed by Ferranti and which included the stability augmentation system (SAS) and flight management systems (flight instrument packages, flight director guidance (for all flight phases) and autopilot coupling). These systems were developed by Ferranti’s aircraft equipment division at Moston, Manchester and Bracknell, Berkshire.

Bob also doubled up as Sebastian de Ferranti’s personal pilot for though Ferranti had a ppl he wisely understood the limitations of his ability and knew that after visiting four factories in a day that to fight with nav and met while trying to master the wild stallion which was the Widgeon, was probably unwise. It is said that he found his next aircraft, the AgustaBell 47J2A, a more forgiving experience.

Bob went on to become Ferranti’s MD when the company was formed in 1971 and remained in this post until it was sold to BCal in April of 1979. Between ’79 and ’85 (when he moved to Africa) he held a number of corporate posts which included being the personal pilot to Vincent O’Brien (Irish racehorse trainer) and John Broome (developer of Alton Towers). From ’83 to ’85 he managed an offshore operation for the Brazilian-Anglo-Italian consortium Montreal Micoperi Worley (MMW) who took delivery of four new S76s which flew on contract to Petrobras. That operation achieved a 98.9% despatch rate during Bob’s tenure as their MD – an achievement acknowledged by Sikorsky’s sub-contractor and technical support firm, Keystone Helicopters (now owned by Sikorsky).

Bob concluded his professional days as ops manager of a company based in Tanzania, East Africa (operating 206s and a 105) and from there he retired to South Africa where he currently lives. He’s pushing into his 80s now and, for the most part, is in good health.


22nd Jul 2010, 21:52
Just a few bits & pieces of contacts with Ferrnati in my early days at Shoreham.

How well I recall my first visit to what was a distinct copy of an all-American hangar ... 'Hangar One' (very big and very posh) and the ex-home of Beagle Aircraft of course. The Pup 100/150s were built there and to this day the three weighing plates for the wheels remain by the main hangar doors. I was introduced to the infamous Bob Smith and have to say he was a man you couldn't easily forget. Yes, the white gloves were mandatory for his line pilots and were an item I referred to in my earlier novel, "Appointment on Lake Michigan" where my pilot decides he wants such an executive job ... gloves and all! Bob's helicopters were always spotless in both paint and interior and being something of a new aviation buyer in those days, I marvelled at the condition of G-AWJW. But Bob was something of a stickler for the rules and on the occasion I walked down to the hangar to collect the heli, he insisted that as an aviation trader, I sign a ten-page document drawn up by Ferranti's lawyers waiving all rights of redress against Ferranti for any reason! Knowing so little about the nice legalities of trade purchases, I had to decline. My boss Roy Spooner got on to his lawyer who said there was to be no such signature. I really don't know what happened next other than Roy Spooner walked down to Hangar One to talk to Bob Smith and an hour later I was back collecting the aircraft.

I always suspected B-Cal bought the company because in those days Ferranti had the 'Class 7 off shore licence.)

I do recall that with the Ferranti SAS fitted, how much smoother and easier it was to touch skids than other 206s I'd flown, especially the earler machines.

From memory, I'd say Bob Smith was and hopefully is a true gentleman and I know little of his subsequent oddities in SA. But S ... can I ask you to pass him my sincere and very best wishes, should you be talking.

On a side tack .... and for some reason which I cannot recall, around the 1970s, I found myself flying into the Ferranti Pad up near Manchester somewhere. I was with an Enstrom so it may have been a sales demonstration. I landed in the largish garden and walked over to what I thought was the gardener doing the mowing on a large tractor. It turned out to be Sebastian Ferranti himself who greeted me. We talked for perhaps an hour and I left.

Savoia, if tit bits like this help you build a bigger picture for your project, let me know and I'll dig out the detail from log books.

Best wishes to all. Dennis Kenyon.

22nd Jul 2010, 22:42
I could not resist drawing attention to this obit. to the late Major Warburton who was the quietly spoken ops manager for Ferranti at Gatwick and subsequently Shoreham.

It gives a good idea of the calibre of personnel Bob Smith had in his team. (The outfit positively reeked quality ) It is poached from here Untitled Document (http://www.656squadron.org/rollObituary.html) and I sincerely hope they do not mind me using it to draw attention to the memory of this modest and kind English Gentleman. RIP Sir.

Major Herbert `Warby' Warburton M.B.E. D.F.C. CdeG
Army pilot who directed artillery fire in North Africa from a slow and unarmed spotter aircraft

MAJOR HERBERT "WARBY" WARBURTON, who has died aged 82, distinguished himself during the Second World War as an Army observation pilot in North Africa, Italy and Burma.

After the Operation Torch landings at Algiers in French North Africa in 1942, "Warby" - a nickname which reflected his warm and colourful personality - was quickly in action spotting artillery with 651 Squadron.

It was a perilous occupation, pottering about over enemy positions in an a fragile, unarmed, single-engined Auster that seemed more suited to a flying club than to the hazards of war. Derived from the American Taylorcraft, this light monoplane cruised no faster than 100mph, and was restricted to a range of 250 miles.

As the First Army made its bold but unsuccessful dash for Tunis, there was a constant demand from Air Observation Post (Air O.P.) crews for tactical information. Careless of the risk, Warburton circled enemy positions and directed artillery fire. Constantly attacked by enemy fighters, he was also highly vulnerable to ground fire. But Warburton became known as "The Artful Dodger", so canny was he in manoeuvring his Auster until German pilots were forced to break off their attacks for lack of fuel.

He was awarded the Croix de Guerre in recognition of the operations he had flown in support of the Free French 19 Corps around d'Oum El Abouab, where his courageous observation in the face of enemy fire made possible the destruction of an ammunition dump and artillery battery.

Herbert Bradley Warburton was born at Amersham, Buckinghamshire, on July 26 1916, and educated at Hymers College, Hull. While still at school he learned to fly with the Hull Flying Club. Afterwards he joined the Civil Air Guard and the Blackburn Aircraft Company.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, Warburton enlisted in the Royal Artillery, and in 1940 was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 52nd Anti-Tank Regiment.

He volunteered as an Air Observation Post pilot. Awarded his Army flying badge in 1942, he was posted in the rank of captain to 651 Squadron. The next year, after the end of the Tunisian campaign, Warburton, by now a flight commander, moved to Sicily and Italy.

Posted home from Italy in 1944, Warburton qualified as a flying instructor at the Central Flying School. The next year he joined No 656, a sister Air O.P. Squadron, taking part both in its support of the 14th Army in Burma and in Operation Zipper, the liberation of Malaya and Singapore.

Following a brief spell as an instructor at the RAF Staff College, Warburton returned to the Far East, where he commanded 656 Squadron in the messy attempt to help the Dutch recover their East Indies colonies, much against the wishes of the Indonesian people. He was awarded the D.F.C. in 1947.

Amid the chaos and general sense of frustration, Warburton raised spirits by declaring a weekly "Swiss Navy Day", when officers were encouraged to wear caps back to front and to drive their jeeps in reverse.

While sharing an airfield with a Spitfire squadron, he was piqued by a young RAF pilot who bragged that soldiers flying Austers would stand no chance against a well-handled fighter aircraft. Warburton challenged the young blood to a dogfight, and in a dazzling display of evasive flying made a complete ass of him in front of spectators from the station. That night he ostentatiously wore his spectacles, and fumbled his way to the bar, where the drinks were on the RAF.

On his way home to be demobilised, Warburton served briefly in Palestine with his former squadron, 651. Back at home, he ran Warby's Wine Store, the family shop, for a while, but fretted to return to the service. His opportunity came with the outbreak of the Korean War, when he was posted to No 1903 Air O.P. Flight.

He returned to Malaya in command of 656 Squadron, where his experience and unconventional command - especially with his flight's Austers - contributed crucially to the defeat of jungle guerrillas. He was appointed M.B.E.

At much the same time, his Auster floatplane trials off Singapore, which involved take-off runs of up to a mile, indicated his potential as an experimental pilot.

Much of Warburton's operational success was due to his gift for bringing on new pilots. They might find him forbidding at first, but they soon recognised his incomparable experience and innate kindness and generosity of spirit.

Warburton returned home as a major to command No 663 Air O.P. Squadron of the Royal Artillery (sic) Air Force at Liverpool, before training in America in 1957 as a helicopter pilot.

Subsequently he joined the Joint Experimental Helicopter Unit at Middle Wallop as a trials pilot, flying Whirlwinds and Sycamores, and became a founder member of the Army Air Corps. As part of his work with the development of Army helicopters, he helped introduce the troubled Scout helicopter into service.

While second-in-command of the helicopter test squadron at Boscombe Down, he tested an open seated Wallis-Benson auto gyro for altitude, wearing an Irvine jacket, muffler and thick boots. An astonished Boeing 707 pilot called the Wiltshire experimental station and reported he had just passed under a teddy bear flying a curious motorcycle at 11,000 feet.
Warburton also undertook high-risk icing trials with the Wessex helicopter at Fort Churchill, Hudson Bay. He was attached to the Royal Norwegian Air Force to advise on icing trials.

After a spell working on the Lynx helicopter and other projects at Army Aviation HQ, Warburton retired in 1971 as the second-longest serving Army pilot.

But there was no break from helicopters. Warburton immediately joined Ferranti Helicopters as flight operations manager at Gatwick, and held similar posts with British Caledonian and British Airways.

When he finally retired, his career had embraced 42 fixed-wing and 24 rotary types, involving respectively 4,075 and 2,200 hours flying.

Latterly, Warburton enjoyed trout fishing on the Wiltshire Avon, though his activities were restricted by bronchial problems deriving from his time in the desert.

In 1974 he was elected Freeman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators, and the next year he received a Ministry of Defence award for his work on the Scout and the invention of the Warby Weight Computer. Warburton was also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

In addition to his wartime medals, he was thrice mentioned in dispatches.

He is survived by his wife Joan. © Daily Telegraph (London) 14/7/99

Savoia PM on its way in due course.


28th Jul 2010, 09:08

Didn’t realise you had already authored some books (I did suspect you may have some interesting stories to tell). Will definitely get copies of your work next time I’m in the UK. If there is a special distributor perhaps you would let me know the details. Well done!

I will certainly pass on your regards to Bob. He was, without doubt, a gentleman. Moreover, those who knew him personally will readily remark on his congenial, generous and loyal nature. He is one of the kindest people I have encountered over the years.

In the days when we he was flying for the race horse trainer Vincent O’Brien (collecting Lester Piggott or Pat Eddery from either Cork, Shannon or Dublin was a regular occurrence) he lived for some months at the Cashel Rock Hotel in County Tipperary (owned by Vincent) where a dear old lady had been resident for almost 10 years. One evening during his ‘wee snifter’ at the bar Bob discovered that the dear woman was unable to attend the wake of her recently departed sister (who had been her only remaining relative) and which was to take place in Galway the following day.

Bob arranged with Vincent’s manager (a chap called McCarthy) to charter the aircraft for himself and then promptly collected the old dear and flew her to the Church in Galway. Vincent got to hear of this (Cashel was a small place) and had his manager reimburse Bob’s money and made a point of telling him that it was one of the kindest things he had seen anyone do. But, I have to say, this was utterly in keeping with Bob’s generous nature.

By the time Ferranti had moved to Shoreham you will have found Bob in a different place and I’m not speaking of geography here. The day I first met you was the date of the photo I posted of you in BENO. It was Saturday May 14th 1977. The following day Ferranti suffered the worst incident in the company’s history when a radio-less Tiger Moth flew into the main rotors of G-AVSN killing Ferranti pilot Hugh Lovett and his 4 passengers. Sadly, throughout the remainder of his professional career, Bob never overcame this tragedy and bemoaned the loss of Hugh and his passengers until his retirement. At that point in British executive helicopter aviation there had been remarkably few dramatic fatalities of this nature (probably the closest incident was three years earlier when G-AXAY (on contract to Plessey) came apart above Inkpen Hill near Hungerford).

Needless to say, the resulting publicity and general demoralisation within the company were things that Bob felt strongly. Less than a year later one of Ferranti’s Bo105’s (G-BATB) was struck by a freak wave while on the pad at Skerryvore lighthouse. Thankfully there were no fatalities but, the incident attracted additional and unwelcome publicity which ran contrary to the image that Bob and his team were working so hard to build.

In the background the Ferranti electronics group were going through their own challenges and from around ’76 Bob found himself becoming somewhat isolated in that Sebastian de Ferranti (his strongest ally and constant supporter) became increasingly indisposed as he attempted to manage the financial storms that the parent were facing. On top of this, Ferranti were booted out of the Beehive facility (Gatwick had been a mildly prestigious location for the company) and so by the time you found Bob at Shoreham, both he and the company, had seen better days.

Regarding Bob’s somewhat fastidious devotion to detail (such as that which you encountered when purchasing AWJW) one need’s to appreciate the distinction Bob made between his personal nature and his commitment to Ferranti which was, for all intents and purposes, his ‘baby’. Sebastian’s strong advocacy of Bob’s guidance of the company was met by Bob’s fiercely loyal commitment which sought at all times to ensure that Ferranti was protected from risk while pursuing the very highest standards of professionalism attainable.

Regarding Ferranti’s Class 7 licence, yes, BCal’s only interest in Ferranti was to use it as a platform from which to compete (especially against BAH) in the offshore sector.

Re: The Ferranti SAS system, sadly I never got the chance to experience this for myself. Speechless Two could doubtless be able to offer valid comment about its usefulness. I do know that people such as the late John ‘Chalky’ White (ex-JCB) swore by the system.

If your conversation with Sebastian threw up any interesting remarks about the Ferranti days then yes I’d be keen to receive any details – thanks.

Through the Ferranti tribute website we are developing we hope to capture those aspects of Ferranti’s operations which went on to inspire an entire industry and in this regard, and as previously posted by Speechless Two, were are still keenly seeking information, details, photos and stories relating to the following ex-Ferranti personnel:

Paul Blackiston
Peter Cox
Tony Dando
John Grandy
Dick Hansen
Chris Hunt
Hugh Lovett
Paddy McLaughlin
Chris Powell
Des Sadler
Sqn Ldr Ron Salt
Lt Col Bob Smith
Maj Herbert Warburton

With equal enthusiasm are we wishing to obtain details of Ferranti’s engineering and admin staff. Any leads are most welcome.

Lt Col Bob Smith

One of the first twelve pilots to fly helicopters in Britain
Former test pilot with A&AEE Boscombe Down
Former test pilot with Bristol, Westland and Rolls Royce
Former Chief Pilot of Christian Salvesen serving on whaling expeditions in Antartica
Former Chief Test pilot of Ferranti Electronics group and personal pilot to Sebastian de Ferranti: 1964-1971
Managing Director of Ferranti Helicopters: 1971-79
Founding member of Aviation Consultants International (1981) which counted Norman Todd (Chief Pilot British Airways Condorde Fleet) and the astronaut David Scott among its Directors
Bob received some 30 awards and recognitions during his career, was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a Warden and Liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators.

Ex-Ferranti AgustaBell 206B JetRanger II G-AWJW at Shoreham on 12th August 1981

Clearly no longer a Ferranti 206 as the closest thing that Ferranti had to a logo (the Royal Mail cipher) is missing from the baggage door area and, crucially, the skid fearing cuff is also missing.

Ferranti JetRangers working VIP assignments had a number of non-technical (cosmetic) criteria to meet before they could be considered serviceable, Bob was pretty adamant about this and left Ferranti’s ground staff in no uncertainty as to what was required.

The criteria included a freshly detailed interior with checks to ensure that the white passenger lap straps were thoroughly clean and that newly laundered white covers were applied to all headsets. All windows were to be spotless. The exterior was not permitted to display any evidence of oil leaks or exhaust emissions. The areas of the fuselage exposed when opening the doors and baggage compartment (as well as the inside of the doors themselves) were to be completely clean and Bob’s pet hate … landing gear not covered by fairings including .. specifically .. fairing cuffs (the oval fibreglass cuff that linked the fuselage to the skid fairing!).


30th Jul 2010, 07:01
Wunper: Thank you for mentioning the Major.

Warby was such a vital element of what was Ferranti Helicopters that I can scarcely consider the company without bringing him to mind.

He was at the heart of the management trinity which included Bob Smith and Sebastian de Ferranti. Indeed, when Bob was off flying Warby was the one Sebastian would most often seek out.

Warby not only personified the dignity and character of personnel that Sebastian and Bob cultivated at Ferranti but was, in his own right (and as the obituary so aptly demonstrates), one of Britain's most accomplished pioneers in both fixed and rotary wing aviation.

His contribution as an essential member of the Ferranti team could never be over estimated. He was, on all counts, an impeccable gentleman aviator and manager.

The tribute site we are working on (anticipated launch around Easter 2011 - there is much to do and few to do it) shall include an 'In Memorium' page where, among other things, Warby's obituary shall appear with the permission of the Daily Telegraph).

In the meantime, and as previously posted, we are keenly seeking any information about aircraft and personnel from the Ferranti days.

My regards



Major Herbert 'Warby' Warburton at Ferranti's Beehive Operations Office, London Gatwick Airport with Ferranti Bell 206 G-AZZB in the Background

Major Herbert Warburton MBE DFC CdeG (1916-1998)
Former Operations Manager, Ferranti Helicopters

4th Aug 2010, 23:19
I'm just back from 3 days operating onto Skerryvore and would love to know a bit more about the incident involving G-BATB - very few people left in the lighthouse 'world' who were around at the time. Was the aircraft washed off the helipad, and if so how did the crew/pax escape? Couldn't see any sign of wreckage although after all this time I would imagine anything not recovered immediately post-incident would be more than half-way to Mull along the ocean floor by now.

I believe one of Ferranti's other Bolkows did make its way into the Bond fleet, where I'm told it was admired for the very high standard of maintenance and husbandry it had obviously enjoyed in its previous employment.

Nigel Osborn
5th Aug 2010, 08:05
Interesting comments about Ferranti Helicopters. They must have been a smart company because when I approached them in 1976ish, they didn't offer me a job! However I did fly for Denis, the eldest brother, who was 68 at the time & incredibly fit despite having lost an eye racing in the IOM TT! He had a 500 to take him to Scotland for the shooting season & a 206 to take to the south of France. He traded in his DH 125 for a MU2 as it was STOL & pressurised.
I flew him & his attractive daughter to a nudist beach for a swim; very strange to have your boss & daughter standing next to you stark naked! Not to mention the 100s of naked tourists who wanted to inspect the 206!

Good days & he paid me well!!:ok:

5th Aug 2010, 08:46
Regarding the request for photos of G-BAKT. If you google G-WOSP, it will list a Fliker site that has photos of the Clyde helicopters/ Burnthills machines working around Glasgow in the 1980/90's. There is also a photo of G-BFYA when it was being used as the Strathclyde Police Machine when Clyde had the contract.
Sorry I don't know how to link to them, but there a a few good shots of them.



5th Aug 2010, 20:18
The photo's mentioned can be seen at Clyde Helicopter set (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wiganairways/sets/72157622968099184/) :ok:

8th Aug 2010, 15:47
Thud & Blunder: Ferranti's aircraft were maintained in near pristine condition, both mechanically and cosmetically, and so your comments would not be unreasonable regarding the ex-Ferranti Bo105D (G-BAFD) which joined the Bond fleet via Gleneagle Helicopters.

The person who can answer your question with regard to the Skerryvore incident is ex-Ferranti pilot (and PPRuNeR) Speechless Two and, I'm sure that once he sees your post, will provide satisfying answers. Speechless also has an interesting history with BAFD.

Nigel: In the mid 70's Ferranti were at their busiest and may well have recruited someone prior to your interview but, at least you ended up with the Ferranti family for a season! I mean where else could you find a boss willing to let you see his daughter naked!

Tarman: Thanks for the information on BAKT/BFYA. Senior Pilot thanks for posting them and WiganAirways thanks for the link to them. You are all such gentlemen.


8th Aug 2010, 19:11
I flew KT loads in 1987-8 for Gleneagles and have a few pics which I will try to dig out....

Also flew FD with Bond in the early 90's as a spare air ambulance when the 105 was on maintenance in Cornwall.

Great thread guy's, keep em coming.. :ok:

14th Nov 2010, 20:14

BN2 Islander G-FANS at Shoreham 19th June 1977

Dennis: Not sure if this will evoke any memories. The Ferranti Helicopters sign just visible on the Western wall of the Miles hangar.

Of course Ferranti's move to Shoreham is probably how you met the Colonel but, for me, the move has become a point of sadness as it represented an era of change which was to eventually extinguish the vision of Ferranti's founders.

It was at the 'Beehive' that the company experienced the pinnacle of its popularity and which are by far my fondest memories of what was a remarkable chapter in Britain's helicopter history.


Gatwick's 'Beehive' complex where Ferranti's management offices were in the early 70's


14th Nov 2010, 20:38
I spent about ten days at Dennis' hunting lodge in Scotland.

Had to change the fuel tank in the 206 he had there.

It took that long because the 206 was a Bell and the tank was for an Agusta/Bell (or the other way around, can't remember), and the bolts for all the fittings were too short.

An interesting time.....

15th Nov 2010, 23:40
For 'S' ... Yes I sure remember the ducted fan BN2. The Dufon part of the business was run by a Canadian I seem to recall, but the brain cells won't part with the name. My party piece was to hold both hands to my ears as the Islander taxied by! But fitted with those two huge ducts, the two Lycomings 540s were supposed to be especially quiet ... and they weren't!

A small side titbit ... circa 1972/1973, I used to fly the all red Islander (G-AXDH?) for the 'Red Devils' display team. On one flight, a colleague who had flown the type more, showed me that the aircraft would fly faster in the cruise with three degrees of flap down ... accomplished by selecting flap 'down' and pulling the CB after a couple of seconds. Later I discussed this oddity with Des Norman on the I of W. He told me they knew about the problem ... caused by the incorrect rigged angle of the main plane. Assembly line changes weren't possible so all future production aircraft simply had the flaps welded down at the three degree position! Don't believe me ... just check the next time you see one up close.

I remember visiting Mr George Miles in his office there at Number One Hangar, (then Premier hangar) Along with my old mate, Mike Woodley, we were trying to buy the specially prepared and streamlined Miles Gemini twin which we wanted as a Kings Cup contender. No luck tho'

In those days the Miles Dufon hangar was the most westerly on the airfield. At least another half a dozen have sprung up since. 'Twas about that time that Neville Duke was doing some flight testing with the Miles Student along the old grass runway. So many memories (mostly pleasant) that these threads evoke.

Best Christmas wishes 'S' and to all our readers. Dennis Kenyon.

16th Nov 2010, 09:13

I don't know the exact details but having done the job you describe I know that it was an incident with the blow hole on Skerryvore which can be quite surprising in a SW swell. I think whilst on the pad the blow hole blew deluging the 105 rendering it unserviceable. I think it was there for quite some time before Ferranti managed to recover it.

Speechless can fill in the gaps.

16th Nov 2010, 13:46

I have just seen your post dated 18th July 2010.

I believe that Dennis Ferrantis's Hughes 500 was actually a 500M and was flown from the right hand seat. I think that Dennis had an eye problem. It had two mesh seats in the font - just like the OH-6A.

He also had an HS 125 and a Brantley, or two, before the Hughes 500.

In those days, Battersea was run by "Jonny" Johnson (I believe RIP) and Dave Ward. Dave was responsible for running the Silverstone heliport during the British Grand Prix - in the busy years!

17th Nov 2010, 07:11
TRC: I can't recall Dennis having owned a 206 but I shall check up on it as I am in contact with his son. I'm wondering whether he may have borrowed one of his brother's 206's from the Ferranti fleet and in which case it would certainly have been an Agusta Bell. I'm wondering what necessitated a fuel tank change?

Dennisimo!: Incredible story about the wing alignment on the Islander! The BN2 evokes only sad memories for me though - an horrific recovery operation I was involved in where one had crashed killing all on board. The military in the country I was working in had no operational helicopters so me and my team were tasked to recover the bodies. The army were kind enough to assist us with body bags which I grimly distributed to my pilots and then joined them in this gruesome task. The craft had impacted the ground at high speed and caught fire. My lasting memory of that exercise was of a mother and child 'welded' together in a charred statue of horror. Me and my team received a commendation from the government for this effort but it is not something I would wish to experience again. I can still remember the smell of the bodies as we heaved them aboard our aircraft.

Palma: First of all congratulations on your own accomplishments which of course by now have substantially eclipsed anything my godfather achieved. I do recall meeting you here and there as a young lad while accompanying Bob and a couple of times with Mike Smith and I remember you showing me one of your 500's (a D model) at the '79 Cranfield show!

http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/middle/3/0/4/0430403.jpg (http://www.pprune.org/photo/Sloane-Helicopters/Hughes-500C-(369HS)/0430403/L/&sid=d217aa294eaa8fb4727995c47b465c71)

I believe this was one of your first 500's appaently appearing in an episode of 'The Persuaders' starring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis?

Re: Dennis de Ferranti, PPRuNer 500 Fan has a photo of EI-AVN which was Dennis' and there is a possibility that EI-ATY may also have been his. Concerning the craft's military origin - I seem to recall someone telling me the same thing.

In addition to Dennis' 500 Sebastian's Bell 47J2A G-ATFV was also an ex-military craft (MM80417 of the Italian Army) seen below in 1978 at Newcastle Airport while in the service of Air Anglia.


Anyone with any details, information or photos of anything to do with any members of the Ferranti family and their aircraft or Ferranti Helicopters specifically, please contact me.


uncle ian
17th Nov 2010, 09:52
I flew for Denis from 1977 to 1983. At that time he had a Hughes 500M (EI-AVN) and a B206 (EI-AWA). The 500 was, as already posted, the basic miltary model flown from the right hand seat. Most remarkable was the ship's compass mounted on the floor between the seats. Denis's one eye made it the only instrument he could read clearly! He also had an MU2, based at Castlebar Airport (which he owned), which he changed for a Citation 1 during my tenure. The story of his "infrigement" of an Army airfield and his way of dealing with the incident are typical of the man; a great caracter, not easy to work for, but I had a great time there. If you're interested in pics I'll look them up and send them if you let me know your details by PM.

Nigel Osborn
17th Nov 2010, 13:08
Uncle Ian, I think you must have replaced me as I flew the 206 for Dennis in France in 1976. Did you leave Bristows to join Dennis? He also phoned me in Scotland when I was with North Scottish to ask me to come back as his pilot had resigned but I see from your dates that you were there to 83.
I only flew for him as a stop gap measure as his pilot had gone to the Gulf & he needed a pilot for a few months in France. My family & I had a great time there! I even managed to get Mrs F to do a few solo circuits in the 206. He flew me back to his Irish 'manor' to show me his fantastic set up & then to his house in North Wales in case his new pilot didn't turn up to take the 500M to Scotland.
He was extremely fit & flew very well for some one with only one eye, having lost his left eye in the 1929 Isle of Man TT.

Brilliant Stuff
17th Nov 2010, 19:31
I remember reading a book about a ex Navy fixed wing pilot who then transferred to Wessex and after leaving the Navy worked for a private individual covering Wales Scotland and France with a 206 and 500, and I think his name was Mike something or other (Can't check book is upstairs in the child's bedroom). Could he be the new pilot?

Nigel Osborn
18th Nov 2010, 13:02
I think that would have been Lt Cdr Mike T who I replaced at Dennis' & by coincidence he replaced me at Gulf.

1st Jan 2011, 09:14
Firstly, new year's greetings to Heliport, Senior Pilot and the entire Rotorheads community.

Secondly, our work on the Ferranti Helicopters tribute site continues in earnest and we expect to go live 'sometime' between now and June. The timing has much to do with my personal schedule plus the fact that there is much material to sort through and information to collate.

The site will dip into other areas of helicopter activity beyond Ferranti including snapshots from the operations of BCal Helicopters (Ferranti's successor).

We need help!

Can you identify any (or all) of the following BCalH crew (pilots and hostesses) from the visit of Pope John Paul II in May 1982? Any assistance will be gratefully appreciated.








ps: This enquiry has also gone out to the BCal 'Tribute' and 'Reunited' sites.

3rd Jan 2011, 22:19
For Savoia. Having just tuned in after a week or so, I haven't responded to an earlier item.

Eric, I'll e-mail a copy of the relevent page of "Appointment on Lake michigan" where I write about 'pilots in white gloves' and an executive heli operation - which you might like to see.

Reference the Biggin Hill B206 accident ... that year I was parked in the Enstrom G-BENO 'rotors running' on the grass adjacent to the 03 threshold (in those days) waiting for the ATC call to display. The Ferranti Jetranger lifted off fifty yards ahead of me and climbed into the underside of a short final Tiger Moth removing both wheels from the Moth. Sadly the M/R head detached and the Jetranger crashed ten yards from the crowd line with the loss of all on board although there were no spectator fatals. The Tiger Moth completed a sucessful 'no wheels' landing without injury.

The pic of G-AWJW was taken parked on the Spooner Aviation parking area at Shoreham. The landing gear 'cuff' was missing because I removed it due to cracking of the GRP. The marking forward of the registration was the temporary logo of Southernair.

The adjacent Enstrom G-BHAX ... was the first F28 'Dash Two' model in Europe. It was owned by Derek Chandler of Flair Soft Drinks ... later Flair Air at Goodwood. Derek's son Wayne became MD of the Southernair business.

Next heli was Enstrom 280C G-PALS, which I sold to Property Associates Limited and subsequently displayed at the 1981 Biggin Hill event. It was also flown in "To the Manor Born" TV series by that super blonde lady Gay Absolom.

Looking at the pics of Ferranti pilots meeting the Pope, I feel sure the third pic is of Bob Baff, but I wasn't aware that he was ever associated with Ferranti' Since Bob and I were both ex Meteor pilots, we spent many an hour at Fairoaks chatting about the old times.

Happy and safe flying to all in 2011. Dennis Kenyon.

16th Jan 2011, 07:44
Dennis thanks for the info on Bob Baff, we shall keep searching for the identity of the remaining crew.

Denis de Ferranti Update

We've managed to secure the following images of aircraft which belonged to Denis:

EI-AVN visiting Galway. This is presumably the 500M to which Palma refers. (Photo courtesy of 500 Fan)

EI-AWA (date/location unknown). This 'might' be the 206 on which TRC performed a fuel tank change.

Marc de Ferranti

We have a number of images relating to an operation called 'HoverKnights' based in Wales and which used to operate Ecureuils, evidently under the direction of Marc de Ferranti. Anyone with any information about this or any of the Ferranti operations - please contact me.


16th Jan 2011, 10:00
The Jet Ranger EI-AWA, is still on the British register as G-COIN, S/N 897, still going strong.

16th Jan 2011, 12:46
Great to hear she's still flying. Seems to have been built in '72 and entered the Irish register as the third 206 in the country.

When she became G-COIN it would appear as though Denis sold her to Roger Woodward at about the time Roger sold his 206 G-ROGR to Rodney Crook who re-registered ROGR as G-RODY.

COIN on the other hand seems to have kept the same mark since going onto the G reg.

Another take courtesy of Martin Pole.


Bell 206B EI-AWA at Luton on 6th June 1982

For TRC: She was a Bell as opposed to AgustaBell. Unusual for the Ferranti family. Denis' brother Sebastian would only accept Agusta-built versions in his fleet.


L#cky Strike
16th Jan 2011, 17:55
Hi savoia!
I've only just noticed this thread and see that you seem to have left out a detachment of 2 Bell 206s based at RAF Masirah in 1975-6 supporting an exploratory drilling rig. To my shame, I can't remember the guy's names (poss Chris Hunt?), but they fully engaged in the life of the Mess and were guilty of inducing several very severe hangovers in a couple of young Air Traffic Flying Officers! I don't think I have any photos and am definitely unable to remember the registrations, but have very fond memories of our association.

L#cky Strike

7th Feb 2011, 19:45
We are still musing over issues surrounding 'Atticus' G-ATUS which in the image below is cited as belonging to Denis de Ferranti at the time the photo was taken:

Impression of G-ATUS on the Fairey Aviation apron at Manchester's Ringway Airport on 7th August 1967 (Drawing by Alfonso Damiano based on a photo (http://www.edendale.co.uk/MAIP/CORP.BC2.6.html) by Paul Tomlin)

However, CAA records reveal that from September 1966 to May 1968 this aircraft was registered to Sir Quinton Hazell.

Paul Tomlin has kindly enlarged the shield on Atticus' fuselage and has provided a copy of the Quinton Hazell corporate logo below:



In my mind this leaves little room for doubt in that both the QH logo and the shield on Atticus depict a red dragon signifying that the craft must have been Quinton Hazell's and not Denis de Ferranti's.

About Sir Quinton:

Credited as the man who broke the cartel of the motor parts industry, Quinton Hazell also changed the way automobile components were manufactured and sold in Britain in the post-war years. At its peak in the 1950s and 1960s his company, Quinton Hazell Ltd, sold to 160 countries world-wide and was the largest independent supplier of automobile parts in Europe.

Previously, motor spares in Britain were available only from automotive manufacturers; they came in separate greasy bits of paper, often with the vital part missing. Hazell's product, a neat box containing all that was needed for a particular job, bore the Welsh dragon as a trademark. In the Far East they were known as "Dragon" products, and since the dragon was a respected symbol they enjoyed an ever-increasing share of the market.

Hazell also developed a chain of wholesalers, and whereas previously such outfits had been anonymous - windows painted over with green paint without and oily counters within - he insisted on window displays, well-stocked stores and tidy assistants. These changes, and many others, became accepted trade practice, and it was not long before motor journals dubbed Hazell "the father of the automobile after market".

Quinton Hazell was born in Burnage, near Manchester, in 1920, and attended Manchester Grammar School where he proved his sporting prowess as an excellent swimmer and rugby player. On leaving, instead of going to university, he chose to embark on an apprenticeship in a chain of garages owned by a family friend in Colwyn Bay. He was 18 when the Second World War broke out and was sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force in 1939. Evacuated from Dunkirk, he finished his service as Battery Quarter Master Sergeant Royal Artillery.

During the war Hazell saw how the Americans presented their motor spares - well- coded and easy to use - and after demobilisation visited the United States to observe how their motor trade was organised. He returned in 1946 and, with the help of a pounds 5,000 legacy, a staff of four friends and his wife Morwenna, set up his own company to manufacture and sell motor parts. Growth was rapid and consistent. By the mid-1950s the company was employing nearly 800 staff.

Over the next 15 years the business continued to expand and probe new markets. In 1972 Quinton Hazell Ltd won the Queen's Award for Industry, for export achievement. The following year the company was taken over by Burmah Oil. Hazell found that life in a big corporation did not suit him and started to look around for new challenges. He took a stake in the Supra Group, a small company making sound insulation, under-seal and paint for the motor trade. A motor component side was added and, never one to do anything half-heartedly, Hazell began competing against his own Burmah-owned subsidiary, Quinton Hazell Ltd.

Outside his own business area, Hazell was well known in the West Midlands for his trenchant views on British industry and the decline of its manufacturing base. He also played an active part in public life, serving for many years as Chairman of the West Midlands Planning Council and being appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Warwickshire in 1982. He was appointed CBE for political services in 1978 and was knighted in 1995.


Camp Freddie
7th Feb 2011, 20:01
I hope G-COIN has improved, because when I flew it once years ago, it was the worst jetranger ever, terrible paint job, interior and radios :(


18th Feb 2011, 21:51
Last few minutes of archive film from Man Alive documenary film from 1969 out of the BBC archives shows Sebastian Ferranti flying a helicopter. Might be worth a look.

BBC - Archive - Aerial Journeys - Bird's Eye View | Man on the Move (http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/aerialjourneys/5317.shtml)

Helicopter bit starts at 44.18

23rd Feb 2011, 06:15
Paul many thanks for this.

We shall see if we can get permission to stream this segment on our site. I think it would make a great addition to the material we are collecting. :ok:



9th Apr 2011, 15:17
The Ferranti Files:

I am seeking to conclude the inventory of rotorcraft owned by the Ferranti family and which were primarily used for their personal transport. (ie: not the Ferranti Helicopters fleet).

What I have is as follows:

Sebastian de Ferranti

G-APVD Westland S-51 Widgeon (1963-72)
G-ATFV AgustaBell 47J2A (1965-69)
G-AVSN AgustaBell 206A (1967-70)

Denis de Ferranti

Brantly B2
EI-AVN Hughes 500C
EI-AWA Bell 206A
AS 350B G-MSDJ (1989-2000)
AS 350B G-SMDJ (1999-2003)

Mark de Ferranti

AS 350B G-SMDJ (2003-2011)

I am still searching for details on Denis' Brantly, as well as the dates of ownership for AVN and AWA.

I have now discounted the Brantly 305 (G-ATUS) from Denis' fleet as there seems to be no evidence supporting this. I am assuming therefore that the presence of 'Atticus' at Manchester Barton was simply a visit by Sir Quinton Hazell and that Denis in fact owned a B2.



9th Apr 2011, 16:11
I think Denis owned Hughes 500 EI-ATY as well but will have to check with "a reliable source"

- Yes, confirmed, EI-ATY definitely belonged to Denis, and was subsequently put on the UK register sold to a garage owner in Lytham St Annes

6th May 2011, 09:05
For the few who remember my godfather, he has today turned 90!


Lt. Col. Robert (Bob) Smith
Former Managing Director, Ferranti Helicopters
Born: 6th May 1921

6th May 2011, 09:31
What................ no Cavalry Officer's cap???

I hope he's got his shoes on this time, or is that why the picture is cropped at the knee .

Happy Birthday L/Cpl Smith.

Ask him 'What's the name of his ship', then 'what's the cargo'.

7th May 2011, 08:52

Not the cap from his days with the Royal Artillery but the one employed during his tenure with Ferranti. The cap badge, fashioned from solid silver, depicted the 'Ferranti Fleur-de-lys' and was topped with a ruby (worn by the Colonel, his Chief Pilot Squadron Leader Salt and Ferranti's Operations Manager Major Warburton). In the badges of the remaining crew the ruby was substituted with a garnet.

Ask him 'What's the name of his ship', then 'what's the cargo'.
Clear evidence that you imbibed with the Colonel. So many moons ago since I heard those words that it moistens the eye TRC!



Cornish Jack
7th May 2011, 18:47
This thread has caused me a bit of head scratching (not good, 'cos it removes some of the limited remaining hair:{)
I had expected to find some mention of a Jet Ranger piloted by a female member of the Ferranti family. Reason being that, sometime between '68 and '71, the, then annual, helicopter Garden Party/Fly In was held at RAF Tern Hill. Of the two memories of the day, one was dropping our smoke grenade UPWIND of the VIP guest enclosure:=:\, the other was the arrival of said Jet Ranger and being goggle-eyed at the tall, blonde lime-green trouser suited lady pilot:ooh::mad:!! Limited memory cells tell me that she was of the Ferranti clan - Yes??? or senile confusion???

7th May 2011, 20:07
CJ: I am not saying that the Ferranti family have never had a female flyer but .. my impression is that they have not. I did mention earlier in the thread that Denis de Ferranti compelled his aging driver to obtain a licence but I'm not sure if he extended this 'enforced flying service' to anyone else.

In my view the most likely candidate, and someone who fits your description and timeline, is Gay Absalom - the UK's first female commercial helicopter pilot.

If it was Gay who turned-up at Tern Hill and if she did arrive in one of Ferranti's Dijon-yellow 206's then this was perhaps by special arrangement and which is perfectly possible given that my godfather knew Gay.

Hopefully there may be someone with clearer recollections who can assist.


Nigel Osborn
7th May 2011, 23:02
Mrs Ferranti had a PPL & flew their 206 with me in 1976 in the south of France. Denis wanted her to do at least one solo circuit which after several weeks of practice, she did very nicely once she had regained her confidence. I think his daughter could also fly but she didn't on this occasion. Mrs Ferranti was a charming lady, so nice to my wife & boys.

massbrook house
8th May 2011, 00:03
hi i have a photos of that hughs500c taken near massbrook hs
will scan them and send them on

Cornish Jack
8th May 2011, 13:45
Thank you, Sav. Ms Absalom it could well be. Difficult to tell from the photo how tall she is - the lady I mentioned was distinctly tall and elegant, blonde and ... I suppose, stunning would be apt!!:ok: As you may have guessed, I was quite impressed!!

massbrook house
14th May 2011, 22:42
hi how are you, i have some photos of hughs 500c eiavn/
if you send me your email wiil send them to you

5th Jun 2011, 22:16
I think I might be able to help you with your search for Paddy McLoughlin. If you are still interested, please get in touch with me.
Kind regards,

6th Jun 2011, 07:59
Dear Lisa

We would love to establish contact with Paddy and in which regard I have sent you a PM.

Thank you for your assistance.




Paddy McLaughlin

Flew helicopters with the Royal Air Force until 1969. Became an instructor and spent two years at the Central Flying School. Joined Bristow Helicopters gaining experience in the Middle East and the North Sea. Joined Ferranti in 1973 where he became Bo105 fleet operations manager.


John Eacott
6th Jun 2011, 09:05
After the incident with Paddy and the (naked) 80 year old biddy on Cable Beach, Broome, I'm still not sure about Paddy :p

Nigel Osborn
6th Jun 2011, 13:40
Paddy had a nasty experience when he ditched a Bristow Puma off Karatha. While doing a gentle breast stroke, he swallowed too much sea water containing Jet A1. He ended up with his own training flight school in Jandakot. Lost track of him after that.
John kept his mouth shut & was ok.:ok:

7th Jun 2011, 12:53


The Puma Paddy and John ? were flying to one of the LNG ships off Karratha.

7th Jun 2011, 14:03
Does anyone know what caused the aircraft to fail?

7th Jun 2011, 14:20
That's exciting - keep us updated, hope everything goes smoothly!
http://freeimagestock4you.com/img/C/Bz.jpg http://freeimagestock4you.com/img/i9/Bz.jpg http://freeimagestocks.com/content/69/grey.png http://freeimagestock4you.com/img/iB/Bz.jpg http://freeimagestock4you.com/img/o/Bz.jpg http://freeimagestock4you.com/img/B5/Bz.jpg http://freeimagestock4you.com/img/Bi/Bz.jpg http://freeimagestock4you.com/img/E/Bz.jpg http://freeimagestock4you.com/img/BK/Bz.jpg http://freeimagestock4you.com/img/BM/Bz.jpg

7th Jun 2011, 14:57
CFIW - Puma SA330J VH-WOF, Mermaid Sound WA, 12 May 1991 (http://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/1991/AAIR/aair199100126.aspx)

The aircraft was tasked to carry out a marine pilot pick-up from a departing tanker. The flight was conducted by two pilots operating under night visual flight rules. Conditions were a moonless night with no defined horizon, no outside lighting other than from the ship, and a surface wind that was light and variable. The ship was steaming in a northerly direction at 12.5 kts. The flight proceeded normally until the aircraft was established on final approach to the helideck. As the aircraft descended through 500 ft the rate of descent had increased to about 1,000 ft/min. Although the pilot in command increased main rotor pitch, the aircraft's rate of descent continued to increase until just prior to impact with the water. Both occupants were rescued approximately 1 h after they evacuated the helicopter. The report concludes that the standard approach technique used by the pilots, coupled with the prevailing weather conditions, caused the aircraft to enter a high rate of descent shortly after the aircraft started its normal final approach to the deck. The high rate of descent was probably the result of entry to the incipient stage of Vortex-ring state'. A lack of visual cues and inadequate management of cockpit resources prevented the crew from recognising the abnormal situation until the aircraft was well into the descent. Recovery action was commenced too late to prevent impact with the water.

Nigel Osborn
8th Jun 2011, 01:53
There was nothing wrong with the Puma until it hit the water!! :ok:

9th Jun 2011, 00:41
Hi all, this is my first post here.
FYI Heres a full list of Denis Ferrantis helis in Ireland. They were registered under Helicopter Maintenance Ltd but the real maintenance was done by Mick Byrne and the lads at Irish Helicopters who had to drive down to Mayo as Denis prefered to have it done there apparently.

EI-ARU Brantly B.305 c/n 1035 (ex N12H, G-ATYB) reg 14.8.67 cax 9.1.68 to CF-FKR

EI-ASW Bell 206A c/n 180 (new) reg 17.4.68 to welltrade ltd 1.12.68, to private 23.11.70, cax Sep 72 to G-BADS, SE-HGH, w/o

EI-ATY Hughes 369HM c/n 49-0036M (new) reg 28.5.69 crashed Scotland 11.1.72 , repaired, cax oct 75 to G-BDKL, G-VNPP, G-HSKY.

EI-AVK Brantly B.2B c/n330 (ex N2168U, G-ASLO) reg 19.10.71 cax ? to G-ASLO w/o

EI-AVN Hughes 369HM c/n 52-0214M (ex N9037F) reg 15.8.72 cax June 1993 to G-RAMM, G-KBOT, G-HAUS.

EI-AWA Bell 206B2 c/n897 (new) reg 7.12.72 cax 8.3.85 to G-COIN.

EI-BPM Aerospatiale AS350B1 c/n 1805 (ex G-BLSB) reg 3.4.85 cax July 1993 to G-OFHL, G-GIQW, G-OFHL

9th Jun 2011, 06:39
Shane; welcome to Rotorheads and thanks for this information which is much appreciated.

Your list mirrors that of fellow-Rotorhead and Medal of Appreciation winner ;) Ahh de Havilland's in post #374 on page 19 (http://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/419023-rotary-nostalgia-thread-19.html) of The Nostalgia Thread.

Ahh de Havilland wrote; A list of the DdeF helicopter fleet:

EI-AVK/G-ASLO Brantley B2 - 9.63-10.75
EI-ARU Brantley 305 - 8.67-1.68
EI-ASW JetRanger - 4.68-12.68
EI-ATY Hughes 500 - 5.69-1.72
EI-AVN Hughes 500 - 2.72-7.93
EI-AWA JetRanger - 12.72-3.85
EI-BPM AS350B 4.85-6.93

But, I'm afraid that I'm still in a kerfuffle over Denis' Brantly 305 EI-ARU and whether this was ever entered on the UK register. One photographer had attributed Ferranti's 305 to G-ATUS (aka Atticus) but which in fact seems to have been the personal transport of Sir Quinton Hazell (see previous page). In your record you state that EI-ARU may have been G-AYTB but .. the record shows AYTB as being Rallye Club fixed wing!

What we have:





What we don't have:

EI-AVK Brantly B2
EI-ARU Brantly 305
EI-ATY Hughes 500

But .. we are making progress given that when this thread started we had none of the above so our thanks to all have assisted.

I should mention that the information we are compiling on 'other' members of the Ferranti family (such as Denis, Basil and Mark) shall form a separate section of the site which mainly focuses on Sebastian de Ferranti and Ferranti Helicopters.

Since we are addressing Irish registered aircraft today can I put out another humble request for any information which may lead us to an image of Mohammed Al Fayed's first Bell 206 (G-BAKX) supplied and managed by Ferranti Helicopters, sold to Roy Flood of Castle Motors and from there to Eire where she was bought by Dublin lawyer Brendan O'Mahony. We are looking for any image of G-BAKX when she was painted in the livery (below) but wearing her UK registration. The white circle would have been detailed with a blue 'F' denoting 'Fayed'. EI-BHI recently featured on The Nostalgia Thread.

Bell 206 EI-BHI belonging to Brendan O'Mahony formerly owned by Roy Flood and Mohammed Al Fayed


9th Jun 2011, 13:40

Earlier in the thread you posted several pictures of Pope John Pauls visit to the UK, specifically pictures of him meeting/greeting BCal helicopter crews. In searching the web for some older pictures of ex Ferranti Bo105s I came across this web-site dedicated to the memories of ex BCal staff.

BCal Reunited (http://www.bcalreunited.co.uk)

A request here may illicit more information on the names of individuals in the photos. Moreover, there are two pictures of what I believe are ex Ferranti BO105s on the same website........

BCal G-BATB (http://www.bcalreunited.co.uk/photo-gallery.html?page=inline&gid=64&limit=1&start=33)

BCal G-BFYA (http://www.bcalreunited.co.uk/photo-gallery.html?page=inline&gid=64&limit=1&start=62)

Hope this helps further.

Best Regards


9th Jun 2011, 17:49
Oops just checked there its G-ATYB, my mistake

Yep I have a pic of EI-ATY, ill upload it as soon as I figure out how flickr works

9th Jun 2011, 17:52
I have a black and white copy of the add from Flight Magazine of G-BAKX actually, before it was sold to Ireland ill dig that out too

10th Jun 2011, 00:20



Ant T
10th Jun 2011, 03:07
Hi there,
My Dad (Mike Tuson) was Denis's helicopter pilot for a few years in the mid-1970's. EI-ATY was used a lot up on the estate at Meoble (Loch Morar) for taking the deer stalking parties up into the hills and underslinging the days kill back. I spent a couple of holidays there at the age of 15 or 16 and had my first flight in a helicopter there (in ATY) with Dad. Also had a flight in the Jetranger from Massbrook, Denis's house in Co.Mayo, down to Galway (landed at the same spot as EI-AVN in Savoia’s post#68 I believe) and on down to Shannon before heading back to Massbrook. Decided that it looked a fun way to earn a living.
I have now been flying for a living for 25 years - Bell 47, S61, AS332L, BN2 (Islander), DHC6 (Twin Otter), DHC7 (Dash 7) and now back on the S61.

As Shane101 said, EI-ATY became G-HSKY, and in 1986, while I was on my CPL course at Redhill, it was involved in a mid-air collision with a Bristow Bell 47 G-AXKO flown by Mark Wake. Everyone survived that incident. (Sadly, Mark later died in the S76 accident off Yarmouth)
Ant Tuson

Nigel Osborn
10th Jun 2011, 05:31
Hi Ant,

I replaced your Father at Dennis's & by total co-incidence I believe he replaced me at Gulf Helicopters. At least that is what Dennis told me.
I think I also met your Father in the Navy; what's he doing now?

Ant T
10th Jun 2011, 17:40
Dad is enjoying his retirement in Hawick, Scotland.

I have PM'd you with more.......

10th Jun 2011, 18:42
Nigel - Mike wrote a very enjoyable book about his life as a helicopter pilot - "A Mild Form of Insanity". One copy left in the river related UK online store.....

11th Jun 2011, 19:18
C16: Thanks for the information on Paddy's Puma incident. Most sad. Thankfully no lives lost.

Hof: Many thanks for the BCal links. We've been in touch with both the BCal tribute sites and will maintain liaison with them in the hope of gleaning further details. Regarding BFYA, she seems to have come full circle in that since the beginning of the year she has gone from being registered with Sterling Helicopters at Norwich to being listed with Alan Mann Aviation at Shoreham (the politics of which I think was discussed on another thread).

Shane: Fantastic images representing an important contribution to the material covering Denis' fleet. Thank you. One of Denis' 500's was an 'M' model (ex-military) and I am guessing that it was ATY based on the information I was once given suggesting that the military version of the 500C had a wider rear passenger 'skylight' than its civilian counterpart as well as a slightly different shape of door window.

Ant: 'Antonio', welcome to Rotorheads. We share something in common in that our introduction to rotary-wing flight came by way of the Ferranti family. I also went on to fly commercially (for about a decade) until 'other duties' called! I have sent you a PM re: your father's tenure with Denis. Please forgive me for asking what may seem obvious to most but .. are yoy flying 61's ex-ABZ? I didn't think they were being used any more in the North Sea.

11th Jun 2011, 19:27
Denis's ... estate at Meoble (Loch Morar)

I've got some photos of the helicopter 'hangar' at that estate that I took on my only - and memorable - visit there. I'll have to look them out. The story of which is documented somewhere on this or the AMH thread.

11th Jun 2011, 20:36
TRC wrote: I spent about ten days at Dennis' hunting lodge in Scotland. Had to change the fuel tank in the 206 he had there.

It took that long because the 206 was a Bell and the tank was for an Agusta/Bell (or the other way around, can't remember), and the bolts for all the fittings were too short.

An interesting time.....

Do you happen to remember which of the 206's it was and .. did old man Ferranti offer you a bottle of his finest malt Whisky to spur your efforts!

Ant T
11th Jun 2011, 22:39
Savoia -
In answer to your question above, although my home is Aberdeen, I am flying the S61 on the military support contract in the Falkland Islands.

11th Jun 2011, 23:14
Ant: That is most interesting.

If it doesn't breach the protocols of your contract then please post a couple of shots of the old girl and, if you can manage it, a couple of lines regarding life/flying in the Falklands.

My godfather was based for a short while on South Georgia Island in the late 50's early 60's when he served as Chief Pilot for Christian Salvesen flying S55's on whaling support operations in the Antarctic.

Nigel Osborn
12th Jun 2011, 02:16
Sav: Denis lost his left eye when motor cycling racing in the Isle of Man when he was about 29 years old. After that he was only approved to fly in the right hand seat. The 500M has the captain in the right hand seat unlike the civil version, so he bought one to mainly fly in Scotland. I believe it was the only one sold to a civilian. He also had to have a commercial pilot with him as the Irish authorities didn't think he could see the T & P gauges! Before take off in his 206, he used to say " are those funny needles in the green?" & we would reply yes or no as applicable! Surprisingly he flew very well & I never had to grab the controls. A charming man with a charming wife!:ok:

12th Jun 2011, 09:58
Nigel thanks; like the other Ferranti members he sounds like a real character. I'm still trying to identify which military airfield it was that Denis screamed over at low level in one of his 500's after which he promptly called-up the ATCO's inviting them to a bash in the city!

In terms of images for Denis' aircraft, and thanks to Shane's recent additions, I think we are just left with his two Brantly's: EI-AVK and EI-ARU.

In the process of trying to find these we happened upon Sebastian's B2 (below) which I had been trying to track down for some time:

Brantly B2B G-ASEW at Oxford Kidlington on 29th June 1978 (Photo: Peter Nicholson)

This craft was imported by BEAS in February 1963 and sold to Sebastian in May the same year. Sebastian sold it back to BEAS in April 1967 by which time he had acquired a Bell 47J2A (G-ATFV). Four months later he would take delivery of the fourth JetRanger registered in the UK, G-AVSN.

15th Jun 2011, 01:01

15th Jun 2011, 05:54
Shane: Grazie mille! Much appreciated.

My godfather must have engaged Dismore to dispose of BAKX and this is presumably the ad to which Castle Motors responded.

KX was a tidy ship in her day.

26th Jun 2011, 01:15
Yep I sat in her in 1991, nice tan leather seats, with a bottle of the good stuff under one of them too

30th Jun 2011, 18:06
Over on Nostalgia we are discussing some of the history behind Scotland's smaller helicopter operators (most interesting).

Ferranti were also represented in Scotland:

"In 1943 Ferranti opened a factory at Crewe Toll in Edinburgh to manufacture Gyro Gunsights for the Spitfire aircraft. After the war this business (Ferranti Scotland) would grow to employ 8,000 staff in 8 locations, becoming the birth place of the Scottish electronics industry."

Ferranti's apprentice training school was considered one of the most prestigious, and sought after opportunities for career orientated school-leavers in Edinburgh, Scotland. Ferranti made a considerable investment in their apprentice training program and schooled both blue-collar and white collar engineering disciplines.

Sebastian would come up from either London (Gatwick) or Manchester in the company 125 (below) whereafter one of the Ferranti 206's would connect him to one of the various factories or indeed his Scottish residence.

Ferranti HS125-400B arriving at Edinburgh's Turnhouse on 22nd January 1984 (Photo: Alistair Macdonald)

Perhaps needless to say, anyone with any recollections of Ferranti's Scottish operations (c. 1970's) - please do chip in!

30th Jun 2011, 21:00
I found this clipping with a photo of G-BFYA with Helicopter Hire, think that's why I saved it, being the one that started the Strathclyde Police aviation unit.
Also Heli - Leeds, a good variety of JR's between the two of them, and a Westland WG 30.



2nd Aug 2011, 17:42
I've received a number of PM's quizzing me on the expected launch date for the Ferranti site which, admittedly, was slated to have occurred earlier in the year. What I can report is that much of the work is completed; such as the design of the site's page templates and collation of the open-source material. Contributions from a number of PPRuNe members as well as from various aviation photographers have also been gratefully received.

However, the crucial material remains in the UK, some stored in the village of Withyham, East Sussex, some in London and some in Manchester. In addition to collecting this material I must also visit/interview a number of people including one or more members of the Ferranti family and others familiar with Ferranti's former operations. All in all I need a good two weeks in the UK and which, to-date, I have been unable to achieve given that this project is a hobby and not business-related, ie. a relatively low priority.

Having said this, I will make time to come over and do what is needed but, while my home is in Italy I spend nearly all my time divided between the Middle East and Africa and this does make it slightly less convenient to 'pop back' as it were.

I am thrilled that there are some who are looking forward to reading about Ferranti. The company (helicopter division) was formed as a legal entity for a little under a decade but, though it was a small and short-lived affair it left a footprint upon the UK's helicopter industry, a footprint which, I might add, was almost swept-away by the winds of time. This site will, I hope, in some small way help preserve the efforts of those who, for a time, were known as Ferranti Helicopters.

Needless to say, when we are ready to go, I shall advise accordingly.

20th Sep 2011, 17:17
I recall Savoia, you mentioned your godfather flew the Westland Widgeon for Sebastian De Ferranti.
You mentioned it was a bit of a wild stallion, any idea why that was the case? Were they more trouble than the Dragonfly they were derived from?

As they were so rare Im quite interested in any stories about Widgeons and those who flew them.

There was one based at the old Iona hangar in Dublin around 1958 for a while operating under Shamrock Helicopters but that was shortlived.

Anyone have any other Widgeon stories?


20th Sep 2011, 18:51
Dear Shane

I'm not a Widgeon expert by any means so some of what I mention here may be in need of verification/correction - I'm trawling-up conversations with the Colonel from when I was a 'wee lad' as he would say!

One of Sebastian de Ferranti's first rotorcraft was the Westland S-51 Widgeon. The aircraft was used to test a variety of instruments being manufactured by Ferranti Electronics (from their Bracknell factory) which produced, among other things; flight instrument packages (ie. VSI, AH, ASI, turn and slip etc.), auto-stabilisation (SAS), flight director guidance and auto-pilot coupling. The craft was also utilised as Sebastian's personal mount.

As with most of Ferranti's 'self-flying' clients, Sebastian took-up my godfather's recommendation of having a professional pilot 'at hand' to accompany him on most flights. Col. Bob believed that while many private flyers are, without question, capable - the pressures of commanding industry combined with hectic schedules on top of transporting oneself about the country by helicopter on a daily basis did not always make for the best of ingredients. Sebastian had no qualms about this and, as with several other 'self-flying' clients, appreciated someone performing the daily checks and having the craft running and ready so that all they needed to do was hop-in a 'have a go' as it were.

After a few malt whisky's (the Colonel's preferred tipple was the Glenlivet by Smith of at least 12 years maturity - and woe betide the one who dared adding water - an ice cube or two was sometimes permitted however) Col. Bob would sometimes reenact his days flying the Widgeon and which usually took the form of him sitting on the edge of his armchair (from his home on the hill just above Churchill's beloved Chartwell) and kicking his legs at full extension while elevating his left arm to his shoulder and thrusting his right arm fully forward (this was meant to demonstrate the movements necessary to effect the take-off)!

Of course I don't really know how much manual effort was required to control the Widgeon but I do remember him saying that the chaps at Ferranti (or was it Westlands - memory serves me not here) coming up with a bungee contraption which the pilot could loop about the cyclic to ease some of the required control forces (especially for longer journeys).

I do also know that Sebastian was 'relieved' when the Colonel purchased the Bell J2A as this was significantly lighter on the controls.

As I say, I am no Widgeon expert but my understanding was this it differed from the Dragonfly in that it had the running-gear of the Westland Whirlwind installed and which makes me think that the Dragonfly was probably even more of a 'beast' to fly than the Widgeon (poor Navy chaps .. and of course there were a couple with the RAF).

I've mentioned before that I'm not too keen on posting the Ferranti craft on PPRuNe as I am trying to save these images for the site (now delayed until I can get back to Blighty to scan the remaining material) but I'm posting one image of the Ferranti Widgeon for you here:

Ferranti's Westland S-51 (Series 2) Widgeon as seen at Farnborough on 11th September 1964. (Photo - with the kind permission of Ken Elliott)

From Ferranti's, G-APVD was sold on to Miss Gill Aldam [read my godfather's dear friend the late John Crewdson/Helicopter Hire] and from there to another one of my gadfather's friends, ex-AAC flyer Andrew Walters of International Messengers (who later bought G-BBEU and G-OIML).




2nd Oct 2011, 01:08
Excellent post as usual Savoia, including a great pic. Really interesting to hear of the Colonels recollections of flying the rare beast.

Hears a few clips that the BBC recorded featuring a few internal and external Widgeon sounds among others.
Online Helicopter, Westland Widgeon Sound Effects - Download Helicopter, Westland Widgeon Sound Effects - 5.1 Surround Sound Helicopter, Westland Widgeon Tracks - Page 1 (http://www.soundeffects.ch/surround-sound-effects-_e.php?Category=Helicopter,%20Westland%20Widgeon)

Some of the other recordings including the Sycamore and even the Fairey Rotodyne.
Helicopter Sound Effects - Online Helicopter Sound Effects - Download Helicopter Sound Effects - 5.1 Surround Sound Helicopter Tracks Page 1 (http://www.soundeffects.ch/soundeffects/sound-effects-categories/sound-effects-helicopter.php)

Nigel Osborn
2nd Oct 2011, 08:36
That's the Widgeon I had a fly in at Farnborough 1964; can't remember the pilot's name. Surprisingly smooth, especially after the S51.

2nd Oct 2011, 10:51
I am surprised that the Widgeon is described as such a pig to fly. I have no experience myself with the helicopter but in conversations with a certain Charlie Verry who flew Dragonflys in Malaya I think the description fits the older helicopter.
He said you could always tell a Dragonfly pilot by his dragging his left hand knukles along the floor. He described the bungee arrangement around the cockpit and there was also a pilot operated weight on the floor that was a C of G control. He picked up a Major in a jungle clearing one day and what this Major had in his case he didn't know but on take off he ran out of aft cyclic authority. Circling slowly around the clearing he shouted at this Major to throw the bag out. He wouldn't do this, it was probably full of gold, so the next time the pad came round he told the Major to jump out; which he did.

I spent a lot of time on the Whirlwind and if the Widgeon used the S55 control system that would have been hydraulic with a sloppy stick with no aerodynamic feedback. The only attempt to provide some sort of 'feel' were adjustable friction pads at the base of the cyclic. Looking at the picture one sees one glaring warning: Three main rotor blades, three tail rotor blades, three undercarriage wheels. It all adds up to ground resonance a la Sycamore.

2nd Oct 2011, 20:43
Slightly off thread (apologies) but I wonder if the Alouette III suffered from ground resonance, anyone know?

3rd Oct 2011, 13:19

Not being an Alouette III flyer I cannot answer you with ceritiude but I am reasonably confident that the craft would not have suffered with a 'problem' of ground resonance per se.

What I think one might be able to assume is that as with all three-or-more bladed rotorcraft, the Alouette III would have been susceptible to ground resonance. If I remember rightly, three-bladed craft with tricycle undercarriage were most susceptible to this phenomenon and which, if so, would have meant that Alouette III drivers may have needed to exercise a little more vigilance while earthbound with rotors running.

A brief re-cap on ground resonance:

Ground resonance is a hazardous condition that can occur any time the rotor of a helicopter or gyroplane is turning while the aircraft is on the ground. Similar in concept to the behaviour of a washing machine when the clothes are concentrated at one point during the spin cycle, ground resonance can occur with a rotorcraft when the spacing between blades become irregular or the damping system, including drag hinge dampers, landing gear oleo struts, or wheel tire pressure, is operating out of limits. Ground resonance occurs at three rotor rpm bands, the first at about one-third of normal rotor speed, the second at a range including normal rotor speed, and the last in a range above normal rotor speed.

Ground resonance is precipitated by a shock to the aircraft arising from excessive motion of a rotor blade in its plane of rotation thereby moving the rotor center of gravity from the axis of rotation. Inadequate damping allows the rotor center of gravity to spiral away from the rotor axis of rotation, causing the rotor to generate unbalanced rotating moments beyond the compensating ability of the damping system. In addition to damping system malfunctions mentioned above, such blade movement can occur as a result of taxying over rough ground with the rotor turning at a speed within a susceptible range, or takeoff/landing in which a shock occurs to one side of the landing gear.

Under extreme conditions, the initial shock can cause violent oscillations that quickly build and result in catastrophic damage of the entire airframe. In some cases, complete destruction occurs, e.g. body panels, fuel tanks, and engines are all ripped about normal rotor speed.

Recovery is possible in some cases. If sufficient rotor RPM exists, immediate takeoff can restore rotor balance. If rotor RPM is low, complete shutdown might be sufficient.

Two bladed semi-rigid see-saw (underslung) type rotor systems are not susceptible to ground resonance because the blades do not lead and lag.

Some examples of ground resonance:

Both of these clips have done the rounds on Rotorheads - the first shows a Gazelle which seems to have entered the 'shakes' as a result of the landing (perhaps it was a little firm) but I think on the Gazelle thread someone mentioned that there was a lever which operated some kind of damper for the landing gear (intriguing) and which may not have been engaged.


The second vid is a straightforward 'test' where a Chook is allowed to shake itself to bits. Presumably maintenance were fed up with this airframe!

Ground Resonance - Side View - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=RihcJR0zvfM)

And finally, given that you are from the Emerald Isle, that you seem to have an interest in rotorcraft from times past and that you've mentioned the Alouette III, I submit this image (which I think was originally posted on the Bristow thread):

An Irish Helicopters Alouette III 'somewhere sometime' with a Bristow Whirlwind in the background



4th Oct 2011, 23:24
Another great post Sav, excellent explanation.

And heres what happened to this Alouette

"In December 2005, an Aerospatiale Alouette III landing at EscalanteNational Monument in Utah suffered ground resonance that tore the helicopter apart in four seconds. All aboard survived "


Nice image of EI-ATO, taken in Donegal in 1970 I think. Prime Ferranti period.

Cheers, S

22nd Nov 2011, 21:09
hi all , came across this thread while looking up info on d de ferranti.
I found an old photograph which I think came from mr de ferranti' and it may be him racing . If anyone could confirm or deny this I would appreciate it.

My father designed and installed the movable hangar floors for the helicopter hangers in massbrook. I was quite young at the time but if memory serves the idea was to move the hangar floor out, land the helicopter and then move the pad or floor back in and close the doors.
I do recall a pilot flying to our house and going for a spin in one, I believe it was a bell, (forgive my ignorance of the model) and I think the pilots name was brian danger

ok I guess I cant upload a picture but if anyone wants a copy you an contact me and I will e mail a scanned copy


Nigel Osborn
22nd Nov 2011, 22:55
Denis lost his left eye in a crash in the IOM TT, I think in 1929. That was why he was only allowed to fly in the right hand seat & employed a pilot to sit in the left to 'keep an eye on those funny needles'! Everything in his hangar was automatic. On arriving you transmitted on VHF & the door opened & a trolley came out. I believe the fence or hedge also came down! Fabulous set up!

I must be getting old!! I see I wrote something similar higher up the page!! Sorry!!

28th Nov 2011, 23:16
I will ask Gay if you like? She's my step-grandmother....

19th Dec 2011, 10:39
Please do, all info and images welcome.


20th Dec 2011, 06:51
We continue to search for images and information relating to the Ferranti fleet but are especially keen to discover details relating G-BCTE the Bo105CB which served with Ferranti between April 1975 and April 1976.

BCTE was perhaps best known (among Ferranti-ites) for her appearance on the cover of the second Ferranti brochure where she was pictured over the Alps.

Because her tenure with Ferranti was so short-lived it has been challenging to collect material so .. if there's anyone out there who recalls this craft .. please do let us know.

MBB Bo105CB D-HDCH being displayed at Farnborough 1974 (Photo: Dave Grimsdale)

D-HDCH above the Alps and which image was used on the cover of Ferranti's second company brochure

MBB Bo105CB: 1974 D-HDCH MBB Germany > 1974 G-BCTE Helicopter Marketing UK > 1975 Ferranti Helicopters UK > 1976 PH-NZH KLM Helicopters Holland

BCTE was the second craft to fly in the Ferranti fleet with red and white livery - the first being the Agusta-Bell 206 G-BAKT.

28th May 2012, 06:54
Brantly B-2B G-ASEW belonging to Sebastian de Ferranti as seen at his hangar facility at Kerfield House in Knutsford, Cheshire in 1964

The trolley was mechanised (unique at the time) and could be remotely operated from the aircraft.

Sebastian in his Brantly

ASEW's panel

14th Sep 2012, 12:12
would love to hear your news about him whilst flying, the castlebar incident and anything you'd like to share. thank you very much, Alvaro

14th Sep 2012, 12:14
i remember that Beach well even though i was very young. i remember my dad walking down the beach proudly whilst my mother used to be in horror as we all wondered around naked LOL

15th Sep 2012, 12:22
Benvenuto Alvaro!

There are a number of people who have contributed to this thread who have had dealings with your grandfather and which includes Nigel Osborn and Uncle Ian both of whom flew for him in times past.

We also had a visit by Anthony Tuson (Ant T), son of Mike Tuson, who similarly flew for Denis. TRC did some work on your grandfather's JetRanger at his hunting lodge in Scotland at one point and there are doubtless others who have yet to contribute.

16th Sep 2012, 09:46
Hi Savoia

You comment that one of the 500's was ex military.

Not impossible but more likely both were purchased in that configuration and had no military service..

Hughes sold the 500 in three versions all civil certified.

369HS Hughes standard? (five seats
369HE Hughes executive (posh trim, five seats)
369HM Hughes military (right hand drive, mil trim four seats only)

Both of the 500's have HM suffixes.

Ant T
30th Sep 2012, 22:46

Ant T
3rd Oct 2012, 23:03
My dad visited this weekend and we were looking at his old photos of his time as Denis's pilot. Here is one of EI-AVN, and Denis in one of his many classic cars - this one is a Mors Dogcart from the very early 1900s. The photo was taken at Baston, Lincolnshire


Ant T
3rd Oct 2012, 23:30
Here are a few more - EI-ATY at the Scottish estate (Meoble).
This was the first helicopter I ever flew in, with Dad, and I thought it seemed a fun way to earn a living.
12 years later I was doing it for a living, and another 27 years on, I still am, and it still is !!


This was an unscheduled engine repair in the "hangar" at Meoble after an oil line started leaking


This was Dad bringing the results of the days stalking back to the house.


Might find a few more to post in a day or two

4th Oct 2012, 09:25
Bravo Antonio! :D

These are superb and a wonderful compliment to the only other images we have of Denis' 500's from Shane on page 4.

Just to place the period, are we talking about late 70's early 80's here?

Our thanks to your Dad too!

ps: I've had 'leaky' oil lines on 500's in the past although these were all rectified by adjustments (or even replacement) of the line itself. But .. I've heard they do things a little differently in Scotland! ;)

pps: Presumably this was the hangar where TRC swapped out the fuel tank for Denis' 206?

Brilliant Stuff
4th Oct 2012, 12:10
Cool stuff.

Very nice.

500 Fan
4th Oct 2012, 14:47
Thanks for posting those photos of the two Irish-registered Hughes 500s. It is interesting to see that EI-ATY was a "soft-belly" 500. It was No.36 off the production line so I guess the belly hook didn't become a feature until later in production. The last photo looks like it could have been taken in New Zealand, not Scotland.

Was Dennis de Ferranti operating both 500Ms at the same time?

500 Fan.

Ant T
4th Oct 2012, 23:31
The photos I am posting are all from around '74-'76. At the time Denis was operating the two 500 s (EI-ATY and EI-AVN) and one 206.

My dad's caption to this pic says Paris - 1975 (sorry for the poor picture but it was the only one he showed me of the 206)

But by the colour scheme, compared to photos earlier in the thread, this looks like EI-ASW. In post #68 Sav says that was in use by Denis only during 1968. I will have to check with Dad ! (Edit - Just spoke to Dad, he checked his logbook and the 206 he flew was definitely EI-AWA, so this must be an old photo of ASW that he had been given by someone. It is at Issy-le-moulineuax though.

By the way, for those interested, a good section of Dad's book ("A Mild Form of Insanity - by Mike Tuson", still available online.... :) ) is about his time flying for Denis.

Another one of slinging at Meoble - putting up a TV mast

And one of the landing pad at Massbrook, Co.Mayo. There were two hangars there, the pads motored in and out of the hangars, which I seem to remember were carpeted and central heated (but I may be wrong). I do remember the engineer definitely had a good stereo system in there though.

This was an uninhabited island near Arisaig where they used to go for picnics. Not sure what the plan was if it didn't start when it was time to leave.....

16th Oct 2012, 22:23

16th Oct 2012, 22:26
When did EI-AVN loose her low skids? And why, does anyone know?
And when did EI-ATY gain her red panels? They werent red when she was imported by Trans World Helicopters.

Perhaps it was when she was repainted after her rebuild following her incident hooking her skids on a phone line and nosing over on the Scottish estate in 1971.

17th Oct 2012, 15:34
Presumably this was the hangar where TRC swapped out the fuel tank for Denis' 206?

Yes, the same "hangar". I have several photos taken during that visit - when I get back to the UK I'll try to find them and post them on here.

18th Oct 2012, 08:00
Shane: These are a wonderful compliment to 'Antonio's' contribution. It is great to see these memory-provoking photos finally coming out of the woodwork so to speak. Bravo!

500 Fan: If you're reading this then I thought I should mention (which I may have done before .. sorry getting old) that it was you who taught me to look out for the rear passenger skylights on the 500 in order to determine if the craft was a military model. Using this piece of detection one surmises that 'ATY' was the ex-Mil model but .. I could be wrong because I've heard it suggested that both of Denis' 500's were military variants! On a side note; did you notice that even when 'AVN' was placed on high skids she had neither rear skid-mounted nor belly steps, making entrance to the rear seats, well .. interesting!

TRC: We shall look forward to those. Yes, upon reflection .. I 'post-scriptively' use the term 'hangar' somewhat loosely, lol!

I think Christian did a better job (in more recent years) on his take of a remote-Scottish-helicopter-home:

The Isle of Eilean Righ off the West Coast of Scotland

The Isle's hangar

MD900 G-SIVR belonging to the Isle's owner, Christian Siva-Jothy

ps: In the hangar shot you will see a line of fluorescent-tube lighting switched on .. totally unnecessary (during daylight hours) if you have transparent roof-panel sections installed (they work a treat). In fact I haven't seen a modern hangar anywhere without them!

22nd Oct 2012, 11:59
The middle car in the background of the paris photo is a Renault 5
They came out in 1972 (so its unlikely to be ASW in that photo)
So its most likely AWA was repainted in all gold and carried the same scheme as ASW prior to that.

24th Oct 2012, 09:29
Nice to see Issy the way it used to be - a very big grass field with a few hangars and not the very busy pad it is today, surrounded by tall buildings and a huge shopping mall. Remember going there with my Dad in the mid 70's and being shown around a Helicopjet. Happy days.:)

24th Oct 2012, 09:41
Just been reading throught this fascinating thread and a memory I can contribute - OT as it involved fixed wing but relevant as one of the de Ferranti's was flying it - was a trip I had from Manchester Barton in EI-ARN, a Wren 460 which was a modified STOL version of the Cessna 182. I was young at the time but remember the CAA didn't like the Wren so it was registered in Ireland. I also remember the thing climbed like a homesick angel!

17th Nov 2012, 11:51
Ferranti Helicopters Agusta-Bell 206B JetRanger II G-AZZB (cn. 8327) at Farnborough in September 1974 (Photo: Keith C. Wilson courtesy of David Haines)

A Ferranti 206 wears the company's distinctive Dijon livery. The craft was purchased just weeks before this photo was taken (hence the missing Royal Mail cypher on the baggage door) but .. the crew at Gatwick had clearly set-about 'Ferrantifying' her as she already had the hand-sewn leather interior with high-back seats (rare for the early 70's) and which were supplied by Connolly Brothers of London.

In addition to custom leather seats, Ferranti 206's sported various interior trimmings. These appeared on the inside door panels and behind the two front seats and were typically made from Walnut (burr) and supplied by another London-based vendor, Mulliner Park Ward.

Ferranti 206's also sported white seat belts with chrome buckles and chocolate coloured woolen floor rugs. In terms of avionics each Ferranti 206 was equipped with VOR, Decca's DANAC 'moving map' system and, of course, Ferranti's own Stability Augmentation System (SAS) which, so I'm told, made the 206 a 'dream' to fly.

The aircraft were additionally among the first to wear a special blend of polyurethane paint (devised with the assistance of Agusta) and were finished with several layers of clear coating which gave the aircraft their super high gloss appearance. So much so that Bell Helicopter (in 1970-71) appealed to Ferranti to divulge the ingedients and process involved and which resulted in this becoming standard fayre for all US production 206's from the early to mid 70's onwards.

Schermuly flares were fitted to all Ferranti 206's for public transport flights at night. (Permissable in singles back then).

10th Feb 2013, 19:45
Italian Air Force Agusta-Bell 47J-2A MM80417 at Paris Le Bourget on the 19th June 1965 (Photo: R.A. Scholefield)

This aircraft was 'borrowed' by Agusta (while in the service of the Italian Air Force) as one of several 'J2A' demonstrators and was seen here at the 1965 Paris Air Show where it was bought by my godfather on behalf of the Ferranti Electronics Group.

A month after this photo was taken it was registered to Ferranti as G-ATFV and remained with them until December 1969 when the craft was sold to Overhill Estates of Bolney in Sussex.

In 1971 she experienced a four year hiatus as she sojourned in Zambia flying as 9J-ACX until returning to the UK in 1975 when she was registered to Autair of Luton.

After Autair she went on to be owned variously by the 'Travel Centre' in Norwich, Air Anglia also of Norwich, 'GSM Helicopters' of Ripon in Yorkshire and eventually Alexander Warren & Co. of Bridgnorth in Shropshire before being retired from the register in 1992 (though I suspect she had probably stopped flying before then).

Camp Freddie
11th Feb 2013, 04:04
Schermuly flares were fitted to all Ferranti 206's for public transport flights at night. (Permissable in singles back then).

I have been wondering for a while when public transport at night in singles was banned? Anyone know exactly. And were there any incidents that led to this decision, and is there anything on the interweb about it ?

Regards CF

21st May 2013, 10:54
This is to advise (for those who remember him) that my godfather passed away in his sleep last night age 92.


Lt. Col. Robert (Bob) Smith

6th May 1921 - 20th May 2013


Bryn Proctor
21st May 2013, 13:05
It is with sadness that I heard yesterday of the passing of Bob Smith in Ficksburg Free State South Africa. Bob was a member of my masonic lodge in Ficksburg and I was privileged to have know him during the past 10 years. He was an example to everyone and his type will never pass this way very often. The lodge wishes to pass on to his family and friends our sincere condolences.

21st May 2013, 15:28
Me too....I first met Bob when he was test flying Sycamores at Weston super Mare for Bristol Helicopters. His passing leaves only Sox Hosegood as the survivor of that little band,who also included Don Farquarson and Peter Wilson.
I last saw Bob at a HeliExpo in the US probably 15-20 years ago.

21st May 2013, 21:21
"What's the name of your ship?"


"I say again - What's the name of your ship?"


"What's your cargo?"

"expletive deleted"

It will mean something to some........

RIP Bob.

Just noticed that ZB isn't wearing the Royal Mail/Post Brenhinol decoration on the boot door. I guess there was a reason.

11th Jul 2013, 21:13
Bob Smith's obituary appeared in The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10174534/Lieutenant-Colonel-Bob-Smith.html) today.

11th Jul 2013, 23:26
Oh dear, what a mistake-a-to make! That's Chris Hunt, not Bob Smith in the photo in the Telegraph and Chris is very much alive. I've emailed the Telegraph to advise that.

Edit: the Telegraph team have emailed to say they now have the correct photo in the online version of the Telegraph.

Flying Lawyer
19th Jul 2013, 00:47
I'm sorry to hear that Bob Smith has passed away.

I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Guild of Air Pilots 'Henshaw Dinner' held at AFB Ysterplaat in February 2009. A real character!


He'd fallen and broken his ankle earler in the day but was determined to attend, even though confined to a wheelchair.


Flying Lawyer
19th Jul 2013, 00:50

19th Jul 2013, 01:12
Oh, the stories I could tell of Lance Corporal Smith.

I spent a lot of time with him in unusual places, and some very amusing situations,

19th Jul 2013, 08:20
I remember as a kid we had a boat, (malll) and caravan (smaller) in Beaumoris.
One day we were out in the Menai Straits, and I think " rescued " or provided assistance to a parked yacht on a sand bank.....

The crew invited us back to have a drink, on their island......

My father accepted, I as 6-7 years old declined.

This must have been 1956 (ish).

There was a Gentlemans yacht, parked off the island, plus a landing stage. I never remember any helicopter movements.

Is this part of the family....


Churchills Ghost
19th Jul 2013, 15:49
I see that Col. Smith made it into today's Telegraph again, confirming their error from last Friday and offering a new photograph.

As heli1 intimated, one of the very last to leave us from among those who can be described as Britain's first helicopter pioneers.

24th Jul 2013, 15:22
Sorry to see Bob Smith has gone.

I remember a well oiled session in 1987 at the Bahari Beach Hotel, Dar Es Salaam with Bob reminising about his military background. A loud disco was playing in the background and you had to shout to be heard. Just as the music died Bob rather loudly said

"We are professionals our job is killing people"

There was a rather stunned silence and then the music started up again.
To say we received some rather strange looks was an understatement.

From the same period Bob was doing some film work with a 206 for an Indian film company which involved a car chase with the helicopter in close pursuit.
The car hit a log in the bush and went up vertically, the 206 missing it by inches.
The film company changed the script to incorporate the scene.
Bob had actually offered his own car for use in the scene which was declined!!!!!!!

1st Aug 2013, 09:17
I've been in touch with Savoia who was recently sent this photo by Barry Friend. The photo is of a Ferranti Augusta-Bell 47J-2S Ranger(the same one as appears further up this page, only in this photo it's been repainted). The photo was taken in 1967 and, as can clearly be seen, has some Folland Gnats of the Red Arrows in the background. However, Barry doesn't have a location for this picture. Can anyone help?


18th Aug 2013, 08:09
Recently on BBC Four was a programme on transport, road and air, and one part had a clip of Sebastian de Ferranti getting from home to work using his Brantly, so some screen snaps of the flight.
http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/src:www.pprune.org/get/images/smilies/thumbs.gif Wiggy








14th Feb 2014, 20:26
Hi my mum worked for ferranti helicopters when they where based at gatwick and Shoreham for many years, and also when they got bought out by British Calidonian. I regularly went up on test flights, and all ways helped when they done pleasure flights, and had the most fortunate expirience of flying to Biggin Hill air show and having the last flight with Hugh Lovett before watching G-AVSN crashing to the floor and killing all on board, a day thet I will never forget!!
I do have a scap book that I made and do have original brochuer and pictures, and mum is does still keep in contact still with ageing staff.

16th Feb 2014, 22:06
Thanks for that information, though quite shocking.
It's good to see some additions to this very interesting thread.
I am always on the lookout for information on anything to do with Ferranti due to the Irish connection.
I've sent you a PM.

Nigel Osborn
16th Feb 2014, 23:31
I had the pleasure of flying with Denis Ferranti in 1976 at his chateau in the south of France. An amazing man, 68 years old, only 1 eye, his right, lost the left one in the Isle of ManTT in 1929 I think & so the Irish CAA insisted he had a commercial pilot in the left seat of his 206 or 500 to keep an eye on the T & P gauges!! His charming wife also had a PPL.

17th Dec 2016, 12:26
are you still looking for info on Ferranti helo ?

SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1