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1986: Museum lands rare helicopter from Cuckfield

Westland WS.51A Widgeon, G-AOZE at the Helicopter Museum

The British Rotorcraft Museum in Weston-super-Mare today took delivery of its latest exhibit - a rare Westland Widgeon.

The helicopter is one of only 15 of the models built at Yeovil in the mid-1950s, and its arrival brings the number - of aircraft owned by the museum to 24. All but two of them are in store in the resort, while the remainder are on loan to other museums.

The Rotorcraft Museum's Widgeon was flrst flown on July 24, 1957, and was subsequently delivered to Bristow Helicopters in the Persian Gulf and Nigeria for use in offshore oil exploration.

During the Biafran uprising in Nigeria in 1967 the aircraft was temporarily commandeered by the rebel airforce, before being shipped back to Britain by Bristows in 1970.

It was later transferred to Warden Park school in Cuckfield, Sussex, where it was rebuilt. The Widgeon was transported to Weston from Cuckfield today by Bristow Helicopters.

Rotorcraft Museum chairman, Woodspring district councillor Elfan ap Rees, said: ‘1 have known about this particular helicopter for a long time, and we have; finally persuaded the people who had it to let it go.’

Bristol Evening Post 29 April 1986

More detail from the Helicopter Museum

from ‘Restoration of Westland WS.51A Widgeon, G-AOZE’

In 1970 G-AOZE / 5N-ABW was returned to Bristow in Redhill, England, and donated to Warden Park School in Cuckfield, Sussex. The school rebuilt and renovated it but eventually had to sell the machine. It was acquired by Elfan ap Rees, Chairman of the Museum Trustees, joining the growing collection in Weston-super-Mare on 29th April 1986. Long-term restoration was started in 1994.

Full spec of the helicopter

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

Visit Cuckfield Museum, follow the link for details


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