Weighty Whirl­wind

Pilot - - AIRMAIL -

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

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