Westland Wessex HAS.31


This model is a version of Wessex



c/n wa215


Year 1963 to 1983




Helicopter Westland Wessex HAS.31 Serial wa215 Register N7-215 used by Fleet Air Arm (RAN) (Royal Australian Navy). Built 1963. Aircraft history and location





History

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australia N7-215
Fleet Air Arm (RAN)
Westland Wessex Mk.31A, c/n WA215, f/f:07/03/63
del RAN as N7-215, 825, 16Apr63
Served with 723 Sqn RAN.
Crashed (Fatal) 04/12/83, in Bass Strait near East Sale, VIC after major transmission failure on the return from an exercise at night from the Bass Strait Oil Rigs. Pilot, Lt Mark Henschke tried to make land, but it crashed short of the beach, killing the aircrewman, Gary Macey, and a CPL J. Campbell RAAF. Was recovered and stored at HMAS Albatross. Reduced to componants, 07/09/88.
australia N7-215
Fleet Air Arm (RAN)
This aircraft did not crash at night!

notes It was around Lunch time on the Sunday! Myself POA Graffham Lt Rob Hill were due to take over this aircraft as it returned from a shuttle run to the rigs.

Mark was returning in it and was due to get out and take another cab (826). It was decided at the last moment (on the flightline) that Miz would stay in 825 and refuel and Gary would join him and Rob and I would take 826 instead of 825. We launched at 1122 and were running 15 minutes behind them. On return from the rig when they put out a Pan Call we closed the distance as best we could and I navigated Rob to where I suspected Miz (Henschke)would change heading too! We closed to within only a few minutes of them when the Mayday was declared. We remained on scene searching until well below minimum land on fuel was available.

The previous night Lt Bell and myself flew 825 on "Task Training" but had to pull out slightly early due to a Hydraulic failure from the Main Gearbox! We declared a Pan and made it safely back to RAAF East Sale.

The Aircraft had only been flown down to East Sale the day before that (Friday 02nd December 1983)

australia N7-215
Fleet Air Arm (RAN)
I flew out to the rig on 825 with my team (SASR) for a familiarisation of the Rig.

notes While preparing for the return journey we were waiting at the bottom of the stairs to the pad and the team at the top of the stairs (the only Non SASR stick) were told by our SSM to swap places with us. We got onto their helo and they (sadly) got onto our (825).

We were blessed that day as 825 crashed into the sea with only it's tail bag inflating causing the cabin to sink and ripping the tail boom away from the fuselage. Apparently the Doctor on board (seated in the co-pilot's seat) managed to clamber over the console and exit via the pilots door, while the rest of the survivors went out through the hole in the rear of the cabin (caused by the tail-boom being ripped off). Poor Gary(the crewy) and the airman (J Campbell) were found still strapped in.

It was a sad day and also the 21st birthday of the Wessex in service.

australia N7-215
Fleet Air Arm (RAN)
AU Rupanyup Exhibit (not open to public) ( mar-08 )
Airframe preserved at Schneider Collection, Rupanyup, by Mar 2008


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