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  • Visiting the Helicopter Museum by Rickard Gillberg / Mattias Axelsson
    Visiting the Helicopter Museum by Rickard Gillberg / Mattias Axelsson
    Visiting the Helicopter Museum by Rickard Gillberg / Mattias Axelsson
    Visiting the Helicopter Museum by Rickard Gillberg / Mattias Axelsson
    Visiting the Helicopter Museum by Rickard Gillberg / Mattias Axelsson
Think you've seen it all? Well, think again. If you haven't been to the International Helicopter Museum you have missed some really important milestones in the global world of helicopter aviation. We went there in 2011 to have a look.
The International Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset (England) is the largest fully dedicated helicopter museum in the world. It shares its leading position with the United States Army Aviation Museum in Alabama, but unlike the US Museum the helicopter museum has a wholehearted focus in rotor aviation.

The museum itself sits on historic ground. This was the place were Bristol had parts of its helicopter production line back in the 1950s, and were Westland Helicopters had a supply station until 2002. A few of the helicopters exhibited in the museum have actually been built at this very location.

The International Helicopter Museum was officially opened in 1989, following three decades of hard work. It has grown dramatically since then and gathered an excess of 80 helicopters of more than 40 different types from all over the world. The only limit today is actually the ever-growing museum's lack of space - lack of "additional" space that is. The existing, once roomy, facilities have literary been stacked with as many exotic helicopters as possible. Everything from the French Super Frelon to the Russian Mi-24 Hind can be seen on these floors. The museum has too many helicopters to write about, but some examples are the impressive presence of practically all Westland models that have been ever made, as well as classic international helicopters like the Hiller UH-12, the Alouette II, the Bo105 and the Jet Ranger. The exhibition holds some true rarities as well. Here are a few highlights:

The only remaining parts of the single-built 40-PAX 15-tonne compound tip-jet gyroplane Fairey Rotodyne. The Rotodyne was a large and revolutionary aircraft at its time, but it lacked firm orders, why the project came to be cancelled in 1962.

Wheels and undercarriage from the scrapped single-built three-engined 53-tonne Boeing Vertol XCH-62 Heavy Lift Helicopter (HLH). The American XCH-62 is, to this date, the largest helicopter ever built in the West. The program was terminated prior to completion.

Many of the remaining Westland 30 helicopters. The museum has so many of this rare aircraft that at least one has been converted to a playground for the kids, and one is used as a gateguard. The Westland 30 was a boosted 19-PAX development of the popular Lynx. Only 41 were ever built, and the whole program was cancelled in 1988.

The world's fastest helicopter - G-LYNX. This was the very Westland Lynx that set the new absolute world rotorcraft speed record of 400,87 km/h over Somerset on 11th August 1986. The helicopter, a former demo ship, has been rebuilt into the configuration it had when it broke the record.

One of three preserved tandem-rotor Westland Belvederes, as well as an additional nose section. This helicopter was once a prototype, and it was actually constructed at Weston-super-Mare back in 1960. Only 26 Belvederes were ever built.

Nobody knows what the future might hold for the museum, but a the current growth rate is encouraging. Maybe we will see a Sea King or a retired Swedish Boeing Vertol 107s here soon? Nobody knows. But one thing is for sure, this museum will most definitely need a couple of new hangars very soon.


© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg
Private air show
Various flying guests of all sizes frequently visit the International Helicopter Museum's own heliport. When Nordic Rotors was there a Westland WG-13 Lynx AH7 of the Army Air Corps dropped by to take a closer look at the exhibition. The aircrew was kind enough to show us Swedes what the Lynx was all about. Here are some images:

© Wictor Pantzar© Wictor Pantzar© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg



Mil Mi-24D Hind - a Russian beast
One of the more remarkable exhibits in the collection is the Russian attack helicopter Mil Mi-24D Hind. This specific aircraft served with the ex-East German Army prior to its retirement. The huge Hind is capable of transporting a load of eight passengers in addition to its pilot, gunner and weapon load.
© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg



How to get here
Going here is pretty easy. Weston-super-Mare is located 37 km south of Bristol and roughly 230 km west of London. It is easily accessible by train from London-Paddington station. The journey takes about 2½ hours and it can be purchased for roughly £30. Once in Weston-super-Mare you should really take the time to visit the idyllic town, take a stroll down the beach, watch the tide from the Grand Pier and stay at one of the central Bed and Breakfasts. The museum is open five days a week, all year, and it is located only 4 km from the railway station.



Visit National Rail Enquiries' website for more info on train times and ticket fares. The website Visit Somerset has good information about B&Bs/guesthouses in the area.



Images of the collection
Here are a few images from a portion of the collection.
© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Wictor Pantzar© Wictor Pantzar © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg © Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg© Rickard Gillberg
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