February 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 9 
Integrated Defense Systems

The ties that bind

Chinook helicopter links past, present


In times of war, every soldier can use a little divine intervention. A British Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter known as the "Flying Angel" has helped guide the hands of two RAF Chinook pilots during two major conflicts more than 20 years apart, earning both flyers the United Kingdom's highest military aviation honor.

In 1982 during the Falklands War, an Exocet missile slammed into the hull of the Atlantic Conveyor, a converted container ship. The missile ignited a fatal fire that destroyed nearly all onboard war supplies, including three RAF HC Mk 1 Chinooks, six Westland-built Wessex helicopters and one Westland Lynx helicopter. With the late RAF Squadron Leader Dick Langworthy at the controls, one Chinook, call sign Bravo November, narrowly escaped the wreckage. Operating without spares, tools or lubricants, Bravo November flew for several weeks before additional Chinooks arrived on the battlefield.

Twenty-one years later during the liberation of Iraq, Bravo November, upgraded to the HC Mk 2 configuration in the early The ties that bind Chinook helicopter links past, present 1990s, spearheaded the assault on the Al Faw peninsula, the site of a major oil refinery. Flown by now-retired RAF Squadron Leader Steve Carr, Bravo November overcame adverse weather conditions with visibility reduced by dust and smoke, all while dodging relentless opposition fire. During a three-day period, the aircraft averaged 19 flight-hours per day, delivering combat vehicles, artillery and troops. The mission was the first opposed U.K. helicopter assault since the Suez Crisis in 1956 and the largest in U.K. military helicopter history.

The pilots' heroics throughout their respective campaigns earned them the United Kingdom's highest military aviation honor, the Distinguished Flying Cross, marking the first time in RAF history that two airmen received the award for piloting the same aircraft. The award, established in 1918, is presented to officers and warrant officers for acts of valor, courage or devotion to duty while flying in active operations against the opposition.

"We are routinely amazed at what our customers can do with the Chinook," said Jack Dougherty, director, Chinook Programs. "The legend of Bravo November is the latest chapter in the helicopter's storied history and a proud moment for all associated with the Chinook program."

On Dec. 9, 2004, Sir Michael Jenkins, president, Boeing U.K., presented to the British Royal Air Force Museum in London a painting (see above) that depicts the two missions completed by Bravo November. Copies of the painting were signed by Langworthy's widow, Jean, and his senior officer, retired Air Vice Marshal Tony Stables, as well as Carr and Boeing artist Joe Naujokas. During the event, Boeing also announced that it is leading an effort with suppliers Honeywell and Rockwell Collins to establish a permanent Chinook display in the museum in time for the 2006 Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom.

To help ensure continued RAF Chinook support, Boeing also signed a $6 million contract in December 2004 to complete studies for the United Kingdom's future heavy-lift, multi-purpose helicopter. The RAF, the largest operator of Boeing-built Chinooks outside the United States, currently operates a fleet of 40 HC Mk 2 and Mk 2A Chinooks.



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