Half-term Helicopter Photography

Half-term Helicopter Photography

It’s unusual for any school holiday to be blessed with anything approaching decent weather, but this February half-term had just that.  We took advantage of the situation and managed a couple of days of helicopter chasing. 

The first of those was looking every inch a bust (save for a poorly-lit Apache and a few Army vehicles) until we struck lucky with a Chinook HC6 (ZK550) in one of the confined areas.  Not only was it my first example in such a location, it was also my first HC6 – the most recently-delivered batch that the Royal Air Force is operating from RAF Odiham, Hants.

It’s difficult to put into words the adrenaline rush that was created in this scenario, but suffice it to say, it was very difficult to be anything other than thoroughly impressed by the manner in which the task was carried out; no messing, straight in, straight out – all 99 feet of it!

The second day was far more rewarding and provided another first: a Chinook HC4 (ZH776) carrying the markings of the recently-converted 28 Squadron OCU.  Up until July of 2015, it had operated the Merlin HC3/3A.  With those airframes having passed into the hands of the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force, 28 was re-roled and became the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for both the Chinook HC4 and the Puma HC2, while remaining at RAF Benson.

A second Chinook and a Puma HC2 followed, but neither was quite so photogenic as the 28 Squadron cab.

There’s something very special about photographing helicopters in the wild….

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