Westland Heliport Aerial View

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Flying From Westland's Heliport.
 
Flight
May 1959

Prior to the official opening (see p. 619) of Westland's new Thames-side heliport the first flight into it had been made by company helicopter test pilot John Fay in Westland Widgeon G-ANLW on the morning of April 8. He had brought the aircraft from Yeovil and positioned at Heston, where three M.T.C.A. officials were taken aboad, before making the first landing on the T-shaped concrete platform just up-river from the Battersea railway bridge.

Widgeons Eye View Of The Heliport from the South West.

Widgeons Eye View Of The Heliport from the South West

As with all operations from the new heliport, this flight (and several others made by the Widgeon before it left for Blackbushe the same day) was under visual conditions. The actual limits on operations a minimum of 800ft ceiling and half-mile visibility are determined largely by the need to manoeuvre safely during take-offs and landings; pinpointing the site itself is easy enough with the aid of two big power stations Fulham looming large on the opposite bank, Lots Road just down river. Navigation is a question of following the river and mentally ticking-off bends, bridges and power stations, but it is complicated by the officially imposed necessity of keeping clear of the river banks and, during the approach, leaving room to manoeuvre the helicopter while remaining over the water.

The industrial surroundings of an upstream approach.

During a demonstration flight made by John Fay for a member of Flight's staff the wind was south-westerly blowing slant-wise across the river which at this point runs S.S.W. to N.N.E. Smoke from the Fulham power-station chimneys gave a very clear indication of its direction (and incidentally smelt peculiarly pungent). Facing downstream for take-off, the Widgeon was lifted-off vertically and slightly backwards for 100ft, keeping the platform in view, and then climbed to 500ft and accelerated up the river. This altitude is likely to be the M.T.C.A.'s recommended cruising height over the river. It is only 100ft above the undesirable cruising height band of 20-400ft (height required to initiate autorotation), but greater altitudes are undesirable because of possible interference with London Airport fixed-wing traffic. During the demonstration the Widgeon was flown up-river as far as Hurlingham House, turned for a quick run down-river past the heliport and over Battersea railway bridge and then turned into wind over the centre of the river before forward speed was reduced to about 20 kt I.A.S. for a descent to the plat-form at a steady 150ft/min.

With this particular wind direction operation is straightforward enough, although gust effects are noticeable as it blows between the chimneys of Fulham power station. In other wind direct ans, different techniques must be adopted; an east wind is perhap the most inconvenient as it necessitates taking off facing towards the river bank and making a turn over the centre of the river before accelerating up- or downstream. If necessary an approach can be made into wind with the helicopter drifting backwards and side-ways; there is a 180 deg arc of manceuvring, space and the pilot's visibility from the particular helicopter will partly determine the actual approach path used.


International Aeradio, who will manage the day-to-day running of the heliport for Westlands, are represented by (left) Mr. P. D. Bayetto, air traffic controller and Mr. J. S. McHutchen, heliport manager.

International Aeradio, who will manage the day-to-day running of the heliport for Westlands, are represented by (left) Mr. P. D. Bayetto, air traffic controller and Mr. J. S. McHutchen, heliport manager.

Day-to-day management of the heliport will be under the control of Mr. J. S. McHutchen, who is a senior controller appointed by International Aeradio Ltd. I.A.L. will be responsible for helicopter control and will man the control tower during daylight hours. One hour's prior permission is needed before landing-on, but this in any case is normal time for filing a flight plan. Control will be by single channel V.H.F. and there will be a telephone tie-line with London Airport control. Initial approach to the heliport will be over Castlenau reservoirs or Greenwich Marshes before joining the river and thereafter flying over-water up to the landing platform.

The Widgeon gives scale to the landing T. (Right) The industrial surroundings of an upstream approach (Above) Widgeon's eye view of the heliport "T" from south-west.
 

The Widgeon gives scale to the landing T.  

An upstream take-off towards the prominent Fulham power station.

An upstream take-off towards the prominent Fulham power station.