Navy Wings formally receives Ex RN Gazelle as an Associate aircraft
18th August was a momentous day at Yeovilton, as Navy Wings formally received the Ex RN Gazelle, side no. XX 436 into the fold as an Associate aircraft.
One of the owners, Andy Moorhouse, flew the aircraft to Yeovilton along with Wilf Hyde Smith (ex Army Air Corps) and Andy Morley, the Gazelle Squadron PR officer. As Andy Moorhouse is a qualified helicopter flying instructor, he was able to take our CEO, Cdre Jock Alexander, for a quick spin about the local area and it all came flooding back to Jock, some 34 years after he had flown this very aircraft on 705 Naval Air Squadron as part of his Basic Flying Training (BFT).
The Gazelle is an important part of the naval aviation story as it was the first helicopter many of the current and recently retired generation flew. It also served with the Royal Marines in the light reconnaissance role and so kindles many fond memories for lots of our members.
XX 436 has been restored to the colour scheme of the famous Royal Navy Sharks Display Team, which used to enthrall crowds around the country with their precision manoeuvring in a tight 4 ship display that demonstrated the compete professionalism of Fleet Air Arm pilots. The singleton display was always a crowd puller and the Gazelle was regularly barrel-rolled as part of the show; it is one of very few helicopters that can complete this manoeuvre owing to the semi-articulated rotor head. The Sharks were disbanded in the early 90’s as a budget saving requirement from the MOD and the Fleet Air Arm now operates a two ship display team in the form of the Black Cats with their Wildcat helicopters, which can be seen this year at Air Shows around the country.
In the picture we see a clearly delighted CEO shaking hands with Andy Moorhouse, whilst Wilf looks on approvingly!