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Bristow Photos

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Bristow Photos

Old 26th Feb 2014, 19:40
  #2341 (permalink)  
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RIP Graham good times were had in Galeota [in between power failures]
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Old 3rd Mar 2014, 15:43
  #2342 (permalink)  
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Redhill cont.....a few people pics.

Now, I've either got the date wrong in one of these or everyone changed clothes between pictures!

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Old 3rd Mar 2014, 18:55
  #2343 (permalink)  
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re post 2345

The ladies name appears to be Kate.

Alan Bristow. MD British United Airways - Pictures & Photos on FlightGlobal Airspace
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Old 3rd Mar 2014, 20:32
  #2344 (permalink)  
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Isn't it Diana Moundsdon, Alan's long time partner until the late 70 s when he met Heather? Diana was originally a BUA "Hostess" as they called them in those days.

Last edited by terminus mos; 4th Mar 2014 at 10:18.
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Old 6th Mar 2014, 18:10
  #2345 (permalink)  
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Redhill FTS

Redhill FTS

The Flying Training School developed from the naval training programme which had begun in 1962. In the late 1960s as the North Sea operations of the company expanded and twin engined and twin crew helicopters were introduced the need for more and more pilots and co-pilots became paramount. The company therefore applied for CAA approval to give training for the Commercial Pilots Licence - Helicopter.
Early in 1971 the CAA gave its approval having vetted the company's flying instructors, ground school, aircraft, accommodation and subsistence facilities.
With this approval the company started its cadet helicopter pilot training scheme calling it the HP course.

The course consisted of 100 hours on the Hiller and 50 hours on a Bell 206 Jetranger. This met the 150 hours basic requirement. Originally candidates had to have a Provisional Pilots Licence (PPL) and an Instrument Met.Conditions (IMC) rating, though gradually these requirements were reduced.

By the mid 1970s the Bell 47G2, which the company had used successfully in Iran, took over from the Hiller and in 1980 this was supplanted by the Bell 47G4A . The G4A was not as cramped as the G2 and with its Lycoming 540GN engine had masses of power.

Around 1988 the Bell 47s were themselves replaced by the Robinson R22s and a Slingsby T67C later joined the fleet being used for initial fixed wing training and pilot grading.

The Bristows Flying School was unique in that its aim was always to set standards above the required minimum and indeed pass marks were set deliberately higher. The Flying School closed around 1998, a victim of cut backs.

In 1961 Bristows secured a contract to train 32 naval pilots for the new helicopter squadrons on their Commando carriers. They gave basic training on Hillers and converted to Whirlwind 1s.
All but two passed successfully.

An HP course being given ground instruction on a Hiller UH-12

A nice shot of the whole FTS set-up including Bell 47s and Bell 206s.

An FTS Robinson R22 in the circuit.

A bleak Redhill in January 1962 with Hiller 12 and Whirlwind S-55 Mk 1 waiting for their students.

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Old 9th Mar 2014, 09:31
  #2346 (permalink)  
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Safe Gothia

Safe Gothia

During the late seventies and early eighties the North Sea oil fields were probably at their most active and this led Shell to instigate a Bell 212 shuttle service to serve the Brent oil field installations and surrounding rigs. The Safe Gothia followed in the footsteps of the Treasure Finder and was also to be found in the East Shetland basin and consisted of a hangar built as part of an accommodation platform and attached to a production platform typically the "Brent C".

Believed to be operational during late eighties and through most of nineties, there were, typically, two 212's in the field and one at Unst for maintenance, changing over about every two or three week's. Shell then decided to go down to two a/c after which most of the maintenance was carried out offshore.

All aircraft were fitted with NIGHT SUN, LN450 and FLIR 1000. Most of the time shuttles were the order of the day with a standby requirement for SAR duties.

Gothia based Bell 212 on a training sortie.

Bell 212, G-BALZ, departing Safe Gothia for shuttle operations around the Brent.

Bell 214ST, G-BKFP, on a visit to the Gothia.

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Old 9th Mar 2014, 13:30
  #2347 (permalink)  
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Redhill FTS

Being pedantic, it was a "Private" Pilot's Licence that was required pre Cadet Course. Also, I
don't think any of us thought the G4A had a great deal of power, especially coming out of the SouthWest Confined Area on a summer afternoon with a large student! The school closed end of March 1999 and some of us relocated to Helicopter Adventures in California to set up European Training for them and to continue Cadet training for Bristow. It's a long story but surfice to say a successful course was eventually established, Helicopter Adventures relocated to Florida, and was brought by Bristow Helicopters in 2007 to become the "Bristow Accademy" So the history of high calibre CPL(H) training continues!
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Old 16th Mar 2014, 10:48
  #2348 (permalink)  
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As with many of my posts, this one is very dated and things have moved on a lot since 2001!

Situated some 200 miles north of Aberdeen the Shetland Islands have played a strategically important role in the development of the northern North Sea oil fields.
As the oil companies ventured ever further North in their search for oil deposits so it soon became obvious that the helicopters being used at the time would be stretched to their limits if flying from the Scottish mainland.

As can be seen from this map of the northern North Sea oil fields the Magnus field is approximately 300 miles from Aberdeen airport and aircraft such as the S61 and Puma would not have been able to fly this leg in one go. It soon became clear that it would be to great advantage to set up a base on the Shetland Islands and Sumburgh was chosen as it was already handling oil support helicopters operated by British Airways Helicopters.

The first Bristow aircraft to operate from Sumburgh was probably a Wessex in 1972 but in 1973 a number of S61s joined the base and as can be seen from the photo Pumas and Bell 212s ( this one in Okanagan colours) were also used.

Busy day at Sumburgh circa 1978/79.

The Bristow hanger is the one with the blue roof and the terminal is on the left of the picture. As the operation rapidly expanded, hangars and accommodation had to be provided to keep up and at The Sumburgh Hotel an extension block was added at the rear of the hotel which perfectly blended in with the existing architecture. I think not!
Houses were also built in an effort to persuade personnel to take on the Shetland climate which can be bleak and majestic at the same time with long daylight hours in the Summer and seemingly longer hours of darkness during Winter months.

Taken around 1975 it is interesting to compare this picture with the one above to appreciate the level of development that was required to keep up with the North Sea oil boom.

The airport terminal has provided facilities second to none but from its conception the helicopter operators and oil companies had felt they were being forced to take on an expensive option and Bristows would have probably preferred to operate its own facilities.

Sumburgh has lost all its commercial helicopter operations with various reasons being given. The arrival of longer range aircraft such as the Chinook and Super Puma meant that most of the rig flights could be operated directly from Aberdeen but when Shell finally pulled out and joined a consortium operating out of SCATSTA one of the reasons given was the number of bad weather days averaging 26 compared to SCATSTA's 4.

The above picture is of S61 G-BCLC which is operated on behalf of HM Coastguard, this being the standby machine with G-BDOC in the hangar whilst I was surveying it prior to it undergoing an avionic update at Redhill in 2001. These are the only Bristow aircraft based at Sumburgh at the present time.

The move away from Sumburgh started around 1979 with Chevron operating flights out of Unst initially using it as a staging post as no hangars were available. As the hangar and other facilities came on line so aircraft were based there on a permanent basis.

A couple of S61s in the Unst hangar. I think it can safely be assumed that Unst was the UK's most northern airfield and it must have felt a long way from civilisation in the early days.

Unst Flight Operations where flights to the numerous offshore installations were planned. The notice board contained details of rig positions and movements because many of the offshore helipads were constantly on the move.

Another advantage of short helicopter flights is the cost saving as a cheaper seat-mile aircraft can be used to fly the majority of the journey. This Brymon Airways Dash 8 was probably on the Aberdeen - Unst run.

A muddy G-BFRI at Unst. "It was on the helideck of one of the Ninian platforms when the "mud" pipe to the wellhead burst. The cabin attendant was outside the aircraft when the pipe went and he arrived back at Unst looking like the original flower grader!"

When construction of the Sullom Voe oil terminal was commenced a small airfield was constructed to transport construction workers to and from the UK mainland.
In the mid nineties oil companies looked to SCATSTA as a possible location to consolidate Shetland Islands oil support operations. They moved from Unst and Shell joined them from Sumburgh in 1999 after a 30 year association with the airport.

Prior to Shell moving to SCATSTA the airfield was given a $3.5 million facelift including runway reinforcement, navaid upgrade and expansion of the terminal facilities.
As of mid 2000 the SCATSTA consortium was operating around 5 Super Pumas ( Tigers).

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Old 16th Mar 2014, 18:26
  #2349 (permalink)  
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Shetlands cont.
Final few pics......

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Old 20th Mar 2014, 17:58
  #2350 (permalink)  
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On a stormy February day in 1965, a Bristow's Whirlwind took off from Sunderland Airport and flew 164 miles out into the North Sea to the Amoseas' rig "Mister Cap" on the Dogger Bank. Twenty-five minutes later, having dropped off one set of passengers, refuelled, and picked up another set, the Whirlwind set off on the return journey to Usworth.
This was the first flight to carry passengers to a North Sea drilling rig from a UK base, and it marked a new era in the use of helicopters, and a new chapter in the history of Bristow Helicopters.

This picture was part of a "Decca Navigator" advert that appeared in a Flight International dated 27th May1965 and it advertises the fact that the Decca Mark 8 and Flight Log was the primary navigation system fitted to G-APWN which operated the service to "Mister Cap".
It went on to say that this helicopter service had, without question, raised the morale of all those on the rig.

From an old "Esso" publication:
"Members of the rig's crew, wearing immersion suits, unloading gear from a Westland Whirlwind at the end of Bristow Helicopters' first service flight to a North Sea natural gas drilling rig."

The contract was less than a year and on November 22 G-APWN left Redhill for a 20-stage ferry flight to Lagos!

Back of photo: " The life line of 'Mr Cap' - the Westland Whirlwind Series III completing the longest regular over sea service in the world - landing on a platform 55 feet in diameter.

......and a great article from Bob Roffe...........

Mr Cap - Sunderland, Feb-June 1965.
By Bob Roffe. (written 2001 ish?)

Mr Cap, Sunderland, Feb- June 1965. Three and a half pages of logbook, 200 hours flying and a few photographs, it just does not seem 37 years since Alan Green and I made the first flight out to Mr Cap (a 3 legged jackup drilling rig) from Usworth airfield Sunderland on Feb 17th, 1965.

This flight was 3 months after joining BHL after 5 years flying in the RN. Alan Green, BHL Ops Director had acceded to my request to be initially married accompanied on my first BHL appointment after over 2 years away in Hermes and Kent. I had made this request at my interview in 1964 where he had pitched all the exciting BHL ops in the Caribbean, India, Africa and the Middle East. Sunderland was a surprise to say the least but this Midlander certainly enjoyed the warm North-East hospitality.
Needing the S55 S3 on my licence, I had visited the BHL operation at Emden to fly with Alistair just before and after Xmas 1964. (Chief Pilot: Alistair Gordon, pilots: Willie Weitzel, John Waddington, Horst Neu and also met the fluid druid Dick Jones). An early example of the flexibility of mind needed in subsequent years was to follow when Alan Green asked me to fudge my logbook and type endorsement forms to show that he had done my 1179H at Redhill on an absent UK registered aircraft! I took the forms and logbook to the ARB in the Strand to be shortly called to an inner office and confess my sins to an officer who advised me that his extremity was a smoked fish if Alan Green had done this flight! I shuffled convincingly and said Alan was a fine examiner and pilot. After a very long pause my licence was stamped and I was despatched with cautionary advice as to my future in civil aviation if I was daft enough to try it on again, and to tell Alan and Pete Richards much G and T was owed!

The first UK North Sea exploration helicopter was G-APWN ( It is now in the Frank Whittle Museum at Coventry Airport, not I regret as a main exhibit, but they have a lot of better material to present ) which in January was being fitted out with Decca at the Air Holdings Group associate company Aviation Traders Ltd at Stansted. The rig had been on location on the Dogger Bank (Sunderland 062M -145nm) since early January, so much pressure was on BHL to provide the aircraft as the very basic workboat (Hector Gannet) took 14 hours to reach the rig.

Les (bentnose) Baker, a BHL pilot of much seniority had been assigned by Alan to hold this new boys hand for the flight to Usworth and help his first civil op. He and I checked out the Decca at Stansted on Feb 12th and we left early 13th in good weather for Sunderland. On this nice Saturday morning the wind intensified way beyond forecast and the deteriorating groundspeed on this float fitted a/c soon dictated re-routing to Leeds/Bradford airport. The intercom was u/s as was Les from the night before and I could see my first flight for BHL ending in a field as Leeds was now gusting up to 50kts. ATC gave us some landing priority and the now light helo only stopped slipping downwind on the hardstanding after shut down when the fuel bowser arrived in front. My logbook shows 3h10mins for the sector!

Alan Green was waiting at Usworth when we arrived 2 hours later with Chief Eng Tommy Menham and greenie Steve Stevens (BHL's answer to Steptoe). A Decca flight test on 14th was followed by windy weather ( we needed a minimum of 55 kts groundspeed to make Mr Cap with 30 minutes reserve) and it was on the 17th that Alan Green and I flew to the rig (decision point 80 miles PNR (point of no return) circa 90 miles). That wonderful man Jack Brannon was Radio/Plotter and everything worked including the rig fuel! Base check signed and pax on the way back - one happy rig and client Amoseas. From then on the normal routine of supporting an exploration contract was week-daily flights plus an extra flight on two crewchange days, for which that very professional part time pilot and chicken farmer Dickie Dorman would appear for the 2nd flight.

My learning curve was steep. An early mistake was paying a debt to an Oily who had lent Bentnose some money in a nightclub, Les was in Nigeria and when I corresponded he had a memory lapse, which only recovered when he flew with me on an Iran operation 2 years later! One fitter wrote off the Landrover. Basing transient staff at Mollys pub in Washington Square, much favoured by the miners from Washington Pit, was in retrospect unwise, such was the hospitality enjoyed by Ginger and Fred.

Operationally, most problems centred on weight (what's new!). With max fuel the disposable weight was 680lbs and Alan Green had promised Amoseas a minimum of 4 pax - not a problem in Bengal but our boys all came in at over 200lbs and one, Bill Kiligore, the Amoseas toolpusher was 280lbs. (Getting him into the two piece Frankenstein immersion suit was a 3 man effort). Thank goodness for fresh Spring winds.

On a PNR (point of no return) operation the reliability of rig weather assumes some importance, especially as the Dogger Bank is renowned for fog. BHL rig minimum visibility was 1/2 mile for the Decca ADF navaids, with the disadvantage of only l cm on the Decca flight log map equalling l0nm at the rig site (15cm for l0nm at the airfield). I should have known it was the rig radio operator Albert's crew change day on one nice April morning at Usworth when Jack received the rig weather over the H/F radio being given as light winds in a stable "high", no cloud, hazy, visibilty 1 mile. At PNR the rig vis was 3/4mile. Ten miles after, 1/2mile decreasing and at 10 miles from the rig , thick fog, 100 yard stuff by which time I was at 40 feet and trailing the aerial in!

With the ASI just indicating and the ADF needle 30 degrees to starboard we crabbed in with the passenger in the copilots seat briefed to shout if he saw anything and the accursed Albert also briefed to stick his head out of his deck radio shack and yell when he heard the helo.To cut a long sphincter puckering 30 mins short, with the ADF ident very noisy, the Decca map needle on the rig, Albert shouting "I..........." and the passenger assuming a spinal rictus position, the rig leg appeared out of the fog requiring some frantic control inputs to pull up and then fast stop over the deck without losing visual contact. After Albert came out of hiding some time later to admit his sins of optimising the visibility and had been picturised with imminent short life expectation, I took him back flying for the first time over solid fog all the way to the coast, surface to 3000 feet.

Albert was to become a North Sea character and was hired by BHL at North Denes in 1969 to be based offshore on the North Star rig when accurate weather was needed for very long range Wessex PNR operations.

On another occasion during lunch at the rig, I was asked by the outgoing drilling crew if I could fly round door side to the rig for photographs to be taken. After take off I duly circled at a low height and was a little surprised to see a fusillade of oranges being hurled out of the aircraft towards the drilling deck. I put this exuberance down to crewchange day and continued ashore to be told over the intercom by the passenger riding "shotgun' in the copilot's seat that the cabin passengers had reached up and tied the bootlaces of his immersion suit not only together but over and around the stub base for the copilots cyclic control stick. The stick had been removed for single pilot operation. After ascertaining that I had unrestricted movement remaining I called Jack Brannon over the H/F with a sitrep and asked him to contact Jack Pillow the Global Marine drilling manager to get to the airport and meet me in 45mins on arrival. This good Texan initially declined as he was busy but rapidly agreed when the alternative of his crew being arrested and locked up by the police was mentioned. The aircraft landed, the evidence exposed and the guilty parties were banned by me from crewchanging by air. After 2 boatcrew changes in rough weather Jack Pillow and I agreed that after apologies, normal service would be resumed for this crew. I later learnt that bottles of whisky had come out to the rig to enjoy on the way ashore!

The first rig casevac was at night on April 11th, and the procedure worked well with the 'heart attack' patient accompanied by the rig medic and we landed as planned in the grounds of Sunderland General Hospital at first light. Jack Brannon, ever alert to the oxygen of publicity for BHL had alerted the media, who were in good attendance as we shut down and I had to move very quickly to the cabin to make the patient, who had had a miraculous recovery en route to shore (the medical powers of a heli ride never cease to amaze me!) get onto a stretcher for the highly visible transfer to the ambulance!

The operation, being the UK North Seas first, attracted much press and television coverage of both the BHL part, as well as the offshore rig element, and I was very grateful to the late Michael Barratt of Panorama when one evening on landing back after a rig flight I had made a very clumsy crosswind landing in front of the large hangar in order to get the aircraft nose in for the 'Dorman and Long' trolley which moved the pontoon fitted a/c in and out of the hangar. As the a/c shut down I noticed film cameras on tripods nearby and the good Mr Barratt approaching. After a short interview, I asked whether he had filmed the landing to which he affirmed yes, whereupon I said this new company pilot would soon be out of a job if the MD Mr Bristow saw my landing on TV, but I would be quite happy for him to film another landing which would be perfect! This I duly did, and when the programme appeared so did the second landing. I still watch the BBC to this very day.

Amoseas cut short its 5 well programme and next, Shell drilled one BHL supported well on the Dogger Bank, which was good news as Shell was the only oil company contract not secured by BHL in the first round of exploration activity as Mr Cap was too small for a BEAH S61N. At the end of June 1965, Mr Cap moved and subsequently burnt out off the coast of Nigeria. G-APWN was ferried to the new BHL base at North Denes and this pilot headed off to Iran with fond remaining memories of Usworth which is now the site of the Nissan car factory. Amongst the many visitors were Alistair Gordon (then N.Sea Ops Manager) Tony English, Alfie Hill and Jack Woolley (Tech. Dir.) who also brought along his father, a splendid silver haired gentleman who had flown Sopwiths and SE 5's in WW-1, a privilege indeed to meet him.

Bob Roffe.

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Old 20th Mar 2014, 18:27
  #2351 (permalink)  
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Meanwhile in a parallel Universe.....

I see the MH370 thread is breaking all kinds of records .....
Some pretty wild and speculative theories out there.

One of the dogs came across this in the garden at the weekend!

Yep, absolutely nothing to do with Bristows!
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Old 20th Mar 2014, 22:13
  #2352 (permalink)  
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Just a couple of additions to the Shetlands articles.
Bristow also operated S58Ts from Sumburgh for a few years.
The Brymon aircraft operating into Unst were Dash 7s, not Dash 8s
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Old 20th Mar 2014, 22:35
  #2353 (permalink)  
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The story by Bob Roffe is so important to the history of the North Sea operations.

I do recall, upon receiving my wings from Alistair Gordon in 1976, he said "you boys are going to the North Sea to fly S61N's. Please do not forget we started the North Sea flying 145nm out, Point of No Return with Single Engined helicopters and if you ask for that now (1976) they will laugh you out of the licensing court. One day you will have to challenge the extent of the 'envelope' again".

He was so right.

A couple of years later flying a Gas Pipeline B206 for Bristow I landed one snowy evening at Sunderland airport, serviced by one flight a day by a Dan-Air HS748 and not much else. I decided that it was prudent to hangar the helicopter and the blister hangar looked the likely place. I rolled back the rusty doors and stepped into the past. Here were the offices all painted in light blue and it was the Bristow base of the 1960's and it was if they had moved out yesterday. It was neat as a new pin. The CP and CE offices, crewrooms and stores were all there and neatly labelled. It was spooky! Sunderland airport is now the Nissan car factory but the little blister hangar is still there. if you are up that way do drop by - the heritage is so important.

Alistair Gordon plucked me from the hangar floor and gave me a chance to fly and enjoy this wonderful business - I owe him everything. I would like to think that we are still trying to extend the envelope - in Bristow IBU, I truly believe we do. UG
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Old 20th Mar 2014, 23:05
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In 1979 we were doing the Teeside-Ekofisk run with S-58T's....still using Decca, Two Channel SAS (seems the Yaw Channel never worked)....single pilot. At least we had a second engine and Monochrome Radar. Fuel calculations were a constant effort as we were always to have onshore diversion fuel.

We also had T-Birds in the Shetlands and out on the Ninian doing the Shuttle. The Shuttle was done with Two Pilots for some reason but not the Runs to the Rigs/Platforms from ashore.

While based at Teeside, I took up Parachute Jumping with the Parachute Club at Sunderland Airport....and flew the Jump airplanes there as well. Many a fine day and evening there with very warm hospitality.....in time I finally got to the point I could understand and speak a bit of Geordy!
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Old 21st Mar 2014, 01:25
  #2355 (permalink)  
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Dave Ed

I see in a group photo on post 2344 that John Hall is in it. Do you have any idea where he is now or even if still alive?
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Old 21st Mar 2014, 09:31
  #2356 (permalink)  
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Dave Ed,

And on the same theme .... is that Dave Paris with the 47, Father Christmas and three children "Christmas at Redhill 1966"? It sure looks like Dave but I don't think the date would match. I think he has done very well for himself in the American film industry.
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Old 21st Mar 2014, 09:51
  #2357 (permalink)  
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No, Dave Paris was still at school in 1966!

I think this was Mr Cap, many years after it caught fire offshore Nigeria. The harmattan had brought enough sand and seeds down from inland that palm trees were growing on the wreck

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Old 21st Mar 2014, 15:23
  #2358 (permalink)  
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The pilot with Santa and the kids was Capt. Alistair Gordon.
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Old 22nd Mar 2014, 13:12
  #2359 (permalink)  
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Smile Mr Cap? offshore Nigeria

My guys called it the "Ju Ju Platform"
Last time I saw it there really were bushes and small trees growing on it.
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Old 22nd Mar 2014, 13:16
  #2360 (permalink)  
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My guys called it the "Ju Ju Platform"
We used to pass it on final for the Trident 8 (Sea Eagle there now) and it always struck me that it was not the ideal thing to see just before stepping onto a drilling rig for 28 days! Probably focussed their attention to safety though
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