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Historic Helicopters

Having spent the majority of my life a stones throw from the coast in the counties of South West of England, the bright yellow RAF search and rescue Sea Kings were a part of the scenery. I was sorry to see them retired, and so I was pleased to receive this commission to paint one.

By happy serendipity, I also happen to live not far from Somerset's Historic Helicopters who successfully restored to flight such an aircraft - XZ597 Westland Sea King HAR3. this is joined by their amazing Mk4 and and 48 Sea King models and also their Whirlwind, Wessex and Lynx helicopters which I have seen flying at various events. Recently I got chatting to one of their volunteers and was was filled in about all the other afore mentioned restorations to flight that Historic Helicopters have undertaken, and those in the pipeline when I was invited to visit their hangars.

They have a great team with some strong comraderie (especially given the inter-forces military background the volunteers have stemmed from!) It was all very impressive - and not just in terms of airframes. Taken from their website, apart from preserving, maintaining and operating a select fleet of unique, vintage and historic Military Helicopters, Historic Helicopters also exist to:

  • Establish a Visitor Centre and Museum which charts the history of Royal Navy & Royal Air Force Search and Rescue, the Commando Helicopter Force and the “Junglie” Helicopters. This will allow us to fully engage with Aviation Enthusiasts, Air Cadets, Army Cadets, Sea Cadets, Cubs, Beavers, Scouts and Schools.

  • To provide children with an opportunity to learn more about historically significant Helicopters which were built locally at Westland Helicopters, Yeovil. This will increase their understanding and appreciation of the global impact made by a world-leading Somerset Company.

  • To host as many Open Days and attend as many Air Shows as possible. This increases their engagement with the general public from further afield.

  • To provide a venue for ex-Service Associations to host visits, meetings and reunions.

  • To continue to host two Aeronautical Engineering students from Bridgwater College on a weekly basis.

  • To provide a venue which promotes, encourages and conducts Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) activities.

  • To raise funds by way of donations, legacies and events to provide Historic Helicopter interaction for those who wouldn’t normally be able to.

  • To continue to support the RAF Benevolent Fund and Navy Wings charity by sharing the profits from their merchandise sales.

We discussed ideas going forward as to how the Aviator Art Studio may be able to help with their fundraising, and to this end I have donated the use of my existing helicopter artwork for their merchandise, and will be looking forward to painting a hangar scene for similar use and to hang in their venue where many ex-Service Associations meet. Watch this space...


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