Sy­camore flies back to We­ston

Pilot - - Old Timers - Re­port & photo: Peter R March

The ar­rival of the Fly­ing Bulls’ Bris­tol Sy­camore OE-XSY/XG545 in south-east Eng­land on 8 June 2018 was the first time that one of these his­toric he­li­copters had been seen fly­ing in UK airspace for 46 years. Af­ter its key­note par­tic­i­pa­tion in the RAF Cos­ford air­show, the world’s only air­wor­thy Sy­camore flew ‘home’ the next day to We­ston-su­perMare, Som­er­set, where it was built sixty years ago.

The first Bri­tish-de­signed he­li­copter to serve with the RAF, the Bris­tol Type 171 was pro­duced be­tween 1955 and 1959 at Old­mixon. The Fly­ing

Bulls’ ex­am­ple was one of fifty Sy­camores built for the Ger­man Air Force and Navy. It was first flown as G-18-148 in 1958 and de­liv­ered to the Marine­flieger as a Vip-equipped HR52 with the se­rial CA+328. At the time of its re­tire­ment in 1973, the

Sy­camore was be­ing op­er­ated by the Luft­waffe, se­ri­alled 78+117. Af­ter stor­age, it was sold to farmer Karl Muller who reg­is­tered it as D-HALD in 1976, and it was flown in sup­port of the Hanover Fire Ser­vice un­til Au­gust 1982. Swiss vine­yard owner and he­li­copter en­thu­si­ast Peter Schmidt ac­quired the Sy­camore in June 1988 and got it air­wor­thy again. Painted over­all green, D-HALD was dis­played in France, Ger­many and Switzer­land. In Au­gust 1991 it was re-reg­is­tered HB-RXB, and in 1994 it was re­painted as XG544 rep­re­sent­ing the last RAF No 32 Squadron Sy­camore HR14 to fly when de­liv­ered to the Tor­bay Air­craft Mu­seum on 11 Au­gust 1972.

First ad­ver­tised for sale in 1995, the vin­tage he­li­copter was even­tu­ally pur­chased by Red Bull at Salzburg, Aus­tria in 2008. Be­fore it could join the Fly­ing Bulls, the Sy­camore – now reg­is­tered OE-XSY – re­quired an ex­ten­sive over­haul. Emerg­ing from this still re­tain­ing its RAF paint scheme but with the se­rial XG545, it made its first air­show ap­pear­ance at Zeltweg, Aus­tria in Septem­ber 2016.

Siegfried ‘Blacky’ Sch­warz, the only qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced Sy­camore pilot in the world, flew OE-XSY into The He­li­copter Mu­seum on 11 June 2018. THM is lo­cated on the for­mer We­ston Air­field within sight of the for­mer Bris­tol Aero­plane Com­pany’s Old­mixon fac­tory where the Sy­camore had made its first flight on 3 Fe­bru­ary 1958. Sch­warz said: “It’s an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing to bring it back home be­cause it took us ten years to get the he­li­copter air­borne, get my li­cence and ev­ery­thing else and then fi­nally we made it to Great Bri­tain, and to the home of the Sy­camore.” Af­ter two weeks on dis­play at THM it was due to ap­pear at the RNAS Yeovil­ton Air Day, RIAT 2018 and Farn­bor­ough In­ter­na­tional in July.

The Fly­ing Bulls' Sy­camore flew home to We­ston-super-mare – its birth­place of sixty years ear­lier

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