Wessex turning and burning

The stirring spectacle of Wessex XT761/G-WSEX engine-running near Chard on 16 November.

On 16 November, Historic Helicopters’ Westland Wessex HU5, XT761/ G-WSEX, made its irst rotors-engaged ground run since being delivered into storage at RNAY Wroughton in November 1986 as a search and rescue reserve aircraft.

Historic Helicopters (HH), which was established by Andrew Whitehouse in 2013, is based near Chard in Somerset.

It operates the world’s only airworthy Westland Whirlwind, HAR10 XJ729/G-BVGE. The Wessex arrived at the HH hangar in July 2017, and has undergone a meticulous strip-down and rebuild courtesy a team of former Royal Navy and RAF helicopter engineers. Ex-Empire Test Pilots’ School and Royal Navy ‘Junglie’ Wessex pilot Steve Daniels was at the controls, and following further ground runs it will soon make a irst post-restoration light. If all goes to plan, XT761 will join the Whirlwind on the UK airshow circuit in 2019. Another Wessex HU5, XT771, together with Sea King HAR3 XZ597 and Sea King HC4 ZF122, also resides in the HH hangar.