The twenty-yearsago Whirlwind flight test report triggered an embarrassing memory of its performance limitations. We were doing a display at RAF Halton and arranged our fuel load so that we arrived with the minimum required for the display. Although all the naval equipment had been removed, mostly from the rear bay, it had had to be replaced by ballast for C of G reasons. Combined with the cabin fit and our landaway pack, the empty weight was not that different to the naval equivalent. After landing we went away to the briefing and the pilots’ tent. The arrangement with the RAF was that they would give us some fuel after the display in lieu of payment.
Come display time, the OAT was 32°C and it was a very humid, hazy day with no wind. When I switched on the battery, I was horrified to see that the tanks had been filled to the brim, all 1,400-odd pounds of it. Winding up to max boost for takeoff, the Whirlwind reluctantly lifted to about a two inch hover. I had to taxi clear of the parking space and do a running takeoff. A helicopter display in one that wouldn’t hover was a challenge and not very interesting to the public! Derek Jones