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Laundryboy 27th Aug 2013 09:41

Maybe memories, old alcohol and blurred age?!

212man 27th Aug 2013 12:48

We are Australians, the crews are all Australian
Though, ironically, the B212 being flown the Sydney Opera House is being flown by Ron Anderson....(or so he told me)

Dave Ed 28th Aug 2013 18:46



Provision of a Bell 212, and for a short time an S61, in support of Cairn Energy's exploration activities offshore Bangladesh.
The contract ran from December 1996 to October 1998.

Dhaka. We had a bit of the hangar on the left.
The operation later moved to Chittagong which resulted in shorter flying times to the rig which was about 30 miles offshore.


Bell 212, G-BALZ about to lift off at Dhaka.
The accommodation was flats in Dhaka and a Guest House in Chittagong.


A picture of the Bristow base at Chittagong to where the operation moved to from Dhaka.
Two very experienced old hands in this picture - G-BALZ and Ken Humphries.


Ismaya barge. This brought G-BALZ from Singapore to Bangladesh and my sources tell me that this ship was originally a factory whaling ship called "Southern Cross" that Bristows operated off in the Fifties.


Lifting off from the drilling rig at "Sangu 1" well, Bay of Bengal.


Dawn at Chittagong.


Dave Ed 29th Aug 2013 08:23



Winning the first Bolivian contract was a major milestone for the fledgeling company.
They started working for Shell in Bolivia using Augusta Bell 47s in September 1957 and shortly afterwards won another contract working for the Bolivian California Oil Company, a subsidiary of Standard Oil of California. For this contract they used American built Bells.
Bristows worked in Bolivia for six years and as well as the helicopters also bought and used two fixed wing aircraft - a twin engined Beech Bonanza and a de-Haviland Beaver.The first task was to support geological field parties operating in the river beds and in the foothills of the Andes. In this work, the helicopter was used to fly the geologists out from the base camp first thing in the morning, to support them in the field and return them safely to base at the end of a long, hardworking day. On this type of work, the pilot often accompanied the geologist and assisted him in carrying the rock samples. In this pattern of work the geological party moved camp at intervals of about ten days and this involved transportation of all camp equipment by helicopter.

Operating conditions at the beginning of the Bolivian operations were primitive in the extreme and as experience was gained it became clear that a fairly sophisticated maintenance facility would be required to provide a high level of aircraft availability. To achieve this, hangar and workshop facilities were set up at jungle base camps which enabled the carrying out of all necessary maintenance up to Check 3s. For Check 4s and major overhauls a fully equipped inspection and overhaul shop was built in Cochacomba, but getting the helicopters to this facility involved flying over part of the Andes at more than 14,000ft which
was no mean feat of pilotage in the early Bell 47 model.

"Crossing from the Beni to Cochacomba at around 14,000ft." Dated at 1960.


It is unclear when and where these two pictures were taken but as they include a Bell 47 it is conceivable that it could be Bolivia or very early Redhill FTS.



Tony Mabelis 29th Aug 2013 10:34

Phil Johns
The picture of staff from the Bristow Perth office, posted by "dave Ed" on the 27th August, shows Phil Johns.
Is that the same Phil Johns, Avionic engineer from the DPC operation in Dubai circa 1980?
If it is I would like to get in touch with him, he helped me out on the Dubai Airwing Boeings on several occasions, we had good fun with his children trying to shoot down my R/C plane with Estes rockets.

Dave Ed 31st Aug 2013 10:00



Info below was written over 10 years ago now! So there may have been a few changes in Brunei although I think the same ex Bristow 212s are still there but have been operated by FBH for the past few years and have now become a part of Cobham when Bristow sold their share in FBH recently.

The British Army in Brunei comprises an Infantry Battalion and a Bell 212 Helicopter Flight of the Army Air Corps. The climate of Brunei is well suited to jungle operations and the Training Team Brunei run jungle warfare courses for all members of the British Army. The Battalion is supported by the small British Garrison, at Seria, which provides all logistic and administrative support. The TrainingTeam Brunei is the Army's jungle warfare school. It runs a number of courses, ranging from Jungle Warfare instructor Courses to long range patrolling and tracking.

The original hangar in Seria, Brunei circa mid nineties.


Taken in 2001 by one of the IHUMS mod team (Patrick Peggs) - a nice aerial shot showing the present base layout.


The Bristow contract: Provision and ongoing maintenance (Level C) and logistical/spares support of 3 Bell 212 helicopters to include training of Army Air Corps pilots and technicians.



The contract was for4 years commencing 1st October,1994 and was renewed after competitive tender in 1999 for a further five year period. The aircraft were re-wired after coming out of Trinidad and the cockpits were modified to be NVG compatible.......and that was easier said than done (de)



Dave Ed 1st Sep 2013 09:23



Around 1976 Esso commenced offshore exploration in the seas off Burma. Bristows were contracted to provide two I.F.R. Bell 212s in support of the drilling campaign, which only ran for 6 months.

The two aircraft designated for use on this contract had been serving elsewhere in a V.F.R. role so they were ferried to Rangoon to enable the I.F.R. mods to be carried out which included the fit of S.F.E.N.A. auto-stab systems. 9M-ATU is shown here at Rangoon.


This picture is taken at Tavoy from where the offshore flights operated. The hut on the far left houses a machine gun post and the porta-cabins were the accommodation.


SASless 1st Sep 2013 13:05

SFENA Autopilot systems.....oh were they ever the Cat's Meow....NOT!

Dave Ed 1st Sep 2013 13:16



Thanks to Andrew Rice for the following info.

Here are a few details of the final operation in Cambodia which was for Idemitsu, a Japanese oil company.
We flew the single SA330J VH-WOE to Phnom Penh, departing on 18 March 98 and arriving back in Karratha on 20 May 98.
The operation was based at Pochentong airport in Phnom Penh, but we used to refuel in Sihanoukville, on the coast, on the way to the rig which was the Energy Searcher. The refuel was at an ex UN helipad and we positioned a fuel bowser there for our use. There was a very nice sea-food restaurant and bar just by the helipad, on the beach, so the passengers used to enjoy some light refreshment while we did the refuel.


Other known Bristow contracts in Cambodia:

- Provision of an Aerospatiale SA330J to support Enterprise Oil and then Campex's activities ( March - December 1996 )

- Provision of an SA330J for Premier Oil ( May - December 1994 )

- Provision of an SA330J to support Campex's activities ( November 1993 - March 1994 )

Thridle Op Des 1st Sep 2013 13:17

C'mon SAS, what happened to your famous sense of perspective! SFENA (the thing in the 212 'afforded' by BHL) was intended as a stabilisation system for an unmanned article with a flight profile of short duration usually ending in the destruction of the said vehicle AFAIR. My latest office has SFENA in it but after becoming Sextant Avionic then Thales, now part of EADS. Hopefully the SFENA bit won't remember the short duration-destruction aspect. ;)

Dave Ed 1st Sep 2013 13:39

Most Bristow avionic engineer's reckoned SFENA to stand for Such a F*ing Experience Never Again!
I was lucky enough to spend a couple of years at Warri where we had relatively trouble free Sperry Helipilots but when we ended up with a SFENA machine from PH (I think), I seemed to spend endless hours under the floor measuring gyro drift and trying to get pairs of gyros to match so we had a chance of operating in Duplex. Not very often:bored:

I did a SFENA course at Redhill taught by Alec Lugg I think. He said one of the biggest problems was trying to get the A n Cs to ensure all the flying control bearings had little play in them. All the A n Cs I've worked with would take a lot of convincing the autopilot problems were their fault!

SASless 1st Sep 2013 13:53

OH...Don' t I remember when the PHC aircraft got shifted to Warri....they were far from the standard maintained by the Engineers at Warri. The Sperry System was much...much...much better than the SFENA.

Shame the Flight Directors were removed from the Sperry Aircraft when they were sent to Nigeria from the UK.

I loved the explanation...."....but who will pay for them?"

It seemed the FD's were not on the Shell Contract...thus out they came and put back on the Store Room Shelves in Redhill.....not that we flew single pilot IMC or anything in Nigeria.

Thridle Op Des 1st Sep 2013 13:56

As you say Dave, matching the gyro drift (I think they called them 'computers' back then - though analogue ones) was the key, the trouble was one never had sufficient spares on site to make any matches. Another issue was pilots reluctance to apply enough cyclic friction to allow the limited authority to work effectively, something like 9-10% AFAIR (Lord knows where this stuff comes from)

gittijan 1st Sep 2013 14:06

SASLESS "OH...Don' t I remember when the PHC aircraft got shifted to Warri....they were far from the standard maintained by the Engineers at Warri. "

Dear Mr. Biles,
Are you going to let that one go? Or did he mean they were much better?:rolleyes:

Thridle Op Des 1st Sep 2013 14:08

I strongly suspect SAS is referring to 'pre-AB' CE-PH:oh:

gittijan 1st Sep 2013 14:17

I hope so for his long term health.:O

Fareastdriver 1st Sep 2013 14:38

Shame the Flight Directors were removed from the Sperry Aircraft when they were sent to Nigeria from the UK.

I loved the explanation...."....but who will pay for them?"
Nothing changed later on. When Bristow packed up in the USA we had an S76s back from Rhode Island and the GOM. They were fully IFR complete with DME. Redhill modded them to North Sea standard and took the DMEs out.
"They are not required in the North Sea, you have Decca." was the explanation.

Two months later the Norwegian CAA stipulated that Decca was unacceptable for precision approaches in Norway so they had to put them all back in again.

212man 1st Sep 2013 15:31

Dave Ed,
you may be aware that none of the infrastructure shown in your Brunei photos exists any more, and it's actually hard to spot that there was anything ever there! 7th Flight moved to Medicina lines to what was intended to be temporary accommodation while 'Scout base' was refurbished. For a number of reasons that never happened, and they have now turned Medicina into the permanent base.

SASless 1st Sep 2013 15:47

Did they leave the RadAlts?

In the UK sector we used three BarAlts and no RadAlt on the 58T's....which while flying in the Ekofisk was interesting as the Norwegians used RadAlt heights not MSL for traffic separation.

Why ever would one actually want to know one's height above the sea when one had the Regional QNH to rely upon!

Then there was the legendary Bristow attitude towards GPS in Nigeria.

"No Thank You....Yank DOD Thingy that!".

Then...the Nigerian CAA mandated all Nigerian registered aircraft would have GPS. Then it was "Fine...but when they go U/S...we are not going to repair/replace them as the Reg only says installed and not that they be functional!".

God...I wish I was making this stuff up!:ugh:

Hedski 1st Sep 2013 17:51

But Bristow know better......:ugh:

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