In just over ten days, the Newark Air Museum has purchased and moved the fuselage of BV Chinook HC.1 helicopter, ZA717, from RAF Cranwell to the museum site in eastern Nottinghamshire. In doing so the museum has become the first independent aviation museum in the UK to acquire and display a Royal Air Force (RAF) registered Chinook helicopter.
The helicopter was transported by local contractor Hutchinson Engineering Services the short distance from RAF Cranwell, where, like the recently acquired Puma, it had been used to train Loadmasters in slinging techniques and load securing methods.
The arrival was witnessed by around seventy schoolchildren from two Lincolnshire Schools, who were visiting the museum as part of Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire arts-based education project ‘Fly Away Day’. This was a particularly apt welcome for Chinook ZA717, as eventually the museum plans to use it as an interactive education space/resource for visiting groups of schoolchildren, Scouts, Cubs and Beavers.
ZA717’s arrival was also particularly poignant for museum groundsman Nigel Bean. Not only is Nigel a helicopter enthusiast but, as a serving RAF Police Officer he also witnessed the non-fatal incident on 25th July 1989 that saw ZA717 ‘written-off’ at RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands.
The activity at the museum also saw Puma XW208 slightly repositioned alongside Display Hangar 1 to create the space for ZA717 to be manoeuvred into position alongside the other former RAF Cranwell training aid helicopter.
“We are honoured and extremely proud to have secured such a unique helicopter for the collection,” commented Dave Hibbert, Museum Trustee & Acquisitions Officer. He continued, “We are especially grateful for the assistance provide by the RAF and personnel at RAF Cranwell who safely moved ZA717 out of its confined location, thereby enabling Hutchinson Engineering Services to undertake, what in the end turned out to be a relatively straight forward loading exercise.”
He concluded, “As with the Puma, we are already actively following up leads across the UK to locate the missing parts, and look forward to turning ZA717 into an important educational resource at the museum.”