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Ferranti Helicopters

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Ferranti Helicopters

Old 12th Jun 2011, 01:16
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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!
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Old 12th Jun 2011, 08:58
  #82 (permalink)  
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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.
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Old 15th Jun 2011, 00:01
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Here ya go Sav from Flight International 10 June 78

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Old 15th Jun 2011, 04:54
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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.
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Old 26th Jun 2011, 00:15
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Tidy ship

Yep I sat in her in 1991, nice tan leather seats, with a bottle of the good stuff under one of them too

Last edited by Shane101; 27th Jun 2011 at 08:32.
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Old 30th Jun 2011, 17:06
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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!
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Old 30th Jun 2011, 20:00
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G-BFYA

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.



Wigan
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Old 2nd Aug 2011, 16:42
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Ferranti Tribute Site

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.
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Old 20th Sep 2011, 16:17
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The Widgeon

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?

S
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Old 20th Sep 2011, 17:51
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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).

Brgds

Sav


.

Last edited by Savoia; 22nd Sep 2011 at 09:31. Reason: Post new image
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 00:08
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The Widgeon

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

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
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 07:36
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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.

Last edited by Nigel Osborn; 2nd Oct 2011 at 13:18.
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 09:51
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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.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 2nd Oct 2011 at 12:28.
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 19:43
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Resonance

Slightly off thread (apologies) but I wonder if the Alouette III suffered from ground resonance, anyone know?
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Old 3rd Oct 2011, 12:19
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Shane

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

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

Rgds

Sav
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Old 4th Oct 2011, 22:24
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The 3 blade shuffle

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
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Old 22nd Nov 2011, 20:09
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denis at IoM ??

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

Tony
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Old 22nd Nov 2011, 21:55
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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!!

Last edited by Nigel Osborn; 23rd Nov 2011 at 05:00.
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Old 28th Nov 2011, 22:16
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I will ask Gay if you like? She's my step-grandmother....
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Old 19th Dec 2011, 09:39
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Smoth1976

Please do, all info and images welcome.

Shane
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