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  1. #1
    Some dodgy geezer Scorpy's Avatar
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    Red face 50 Years of helicopter operations

    Today marks 50 years since the first delivery of the first Alouette 3 helicopters to Baldonnel. Having been involved in 14 years of the operations there, I would like to congratulate all of those who have ever been involved in making No 3 Ops Wing a highly entertaining, productive and effective unit to work with.

    Well done to those techs, retired and serving for all the bodges, workarounds, swearing at bent helicopters returned by young pilots, general tomfoolery, great craic, patience and commitment to getting all of the beasts airborne. Notwithstanding the cold days on the ramp, in various locations around the country, in the rain, snow, sleet and storms doing dailys, covered in grease from the aircraft and last night's chip butty grease from (insert border location eatery here).

    Congrats to the support personnel, drivers, ops staff, loggies, refuellers and sigs magicians who shared in the deployed ops and without whom 50 years would have been a lot more boring and indeed less productive if not impossible.

    To the pilots. Well done. Keep bringing them back. And it was better in my day. That is all.

    And a thought for those who would have loved to see this day and what the unit has become, but have moved on to the various messes in the sky, no doubt to laugh at current endeavors and wryly comment 'It was better in our day'... we miss you. Keep one in the taps for me.

    Safe flying to all involved for another 50 years!

  2. #2
    Moderator DeV's Avatar
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    And let's now forget many lives saved, DSMs awarded and lives lost.

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  4. #3
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    Twenty two DSMs awarded to helicopter air crew.

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  6. #4
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    Well done, Heli Flight. If you're good, we'll let you go to the 100 years of tech Wing in 2022;-)

    regards
    GttC

  7. #5
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    A picture taken this day fifty years ago just after Alouette's 195 and 196 flew to Baldonnel from France.



    The first helicopter the Air Corps used was an Alouette II, F-BIRX and was used to train pilots to fly helicopters.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodes View Post
    The first helicopter the Air Corps used was an Alouette II, F-BIRX and was used to train pilots to fly helicopters.
    A picture of F-BIRX post on Facebook today by the Air Corps.

    Attached Images Attached Images

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  11. #7
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    Irish Defence Forces unit marks 50 years' service


    Air Corps formation flight of Gazelle, Alouette and Dauphin Helicopters over Blessington lakes in December 2005. The historic photograph of the different helicopters operated by the Air Corps was taken by the Eurocopter EC 135 just after ins arrival in November 2005.

    The most decorated wing of the Defence Forces has marked five decades of active service with a now and then review of operations.

    More than 2,300 search and rescue operations and 4,000 air ambulance missions have been carried out since the first helicopter touched down at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, 50 years ago today.

    A French trawler floundering off the west coast of Ireland sparked the country's first sea and rescue mission on December 23 1966.

    Fast forwarding five decades, elite Army Rangers marked the anniversary with a dramatic display of fast roping 30ft from an AW139 over the Curragh Camp in darkness.

    The men and women of No 3 Operations Wing have saved countless lives over the years and are said to be a testament to the Air Corps' motto Forfaire agus Tairiseact (Watchful and Loyal).

    Commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Clancy, said the unit's heroism has been repeated continuously over the years.

    "This unit is the most decorated unit in the Defence Forces," said Lt Col Clancy.


    A historic photo of a Air Ambulance mission with a Alouette III. Over the years the air ambulance equipment has got more sophisticated and the modern helicopters are equipped with lifeport stretchers capable of supplying the patient with an oxygen and power supply during transport.


    The Air Corps' six AW139 in a formation flight over Blessington lakes shortly after the final two helicopters arrived in Baldonnel in December 2006. Sent Air Corps.


    Helicopters have the ability to rapidly access remote and hazardous areas. For this reason the Military use them for casualty evacuation from battlezones. Members of the Defence Forces travelling overseas need to know how to operate with helicopters in these situations and this photograph show members training for a casualty evacuation with a Eurocopter EC135 before deploying on an overseas mission.

    "In a period of 50 years, 22 distinguished service medals have been awarded.

    "There have been eight marine medals awards to individuals and we have been recognised by the French, American and UK populations for our services to citizens of those countries."

    A search and rescue pilot for most of his career, Lt Col Clancy was awarded a Department of Marine Meritorious Medal for his role in a dangerous rescue mission in March 2002.

    He revealed that lives being lost at sea, and snow storms in the winters of 1962 and 1963, sparked the political decision to buy two Alouette III helicopters, which were flown from France to Baldonnel.

    Within three weeks a crew on board an Alouette III helicopter were called out to a stricken vessel off Slyne Head, Co Galway. Stranded in bad weather, the trawler was eventually located and towed back to port.

    The first air ambulance was flown in February 1964.

    For almost 45 years the reliable fleet, which expanded to eight Alouette IIIs, was used to transport troops, for border control, reaching the islands off the west coast, and as air ambulances - so tight for space the patient's head often rested between the pilot and crewman.


    Other aircraft bought over the decades included the Gazelle, Dauphin, Puma and EC135s until the arrival of six 6.5 tonne AW139s that support the Defence Forces by transporting troops, carrying 2.2 tonnes of heavy equipment, and dignitaries. Members also fly two Garda Air Support EC 135s.

    The fleet can also be quickly transformed in to an air ambulance - with an incubator for newborns - or cleared for search and rescue operations over land or sea.

    High profile operations in recent years include tackling the gorse fires in Donegal by dropping millions of litres of water from 'bambi buckets', and reaching communities and livestock in Northern Ireland trapped in heavy snow.

    Lt Col Clancy commended the technical advances in recent years, in particular being able to operate at night with night vision goggles on national and international air ambulance transfers

    But he described the Alouette III - an analogue single engine, single pilot helicopter - as a workhorse and one of the best helicopters ever built.

    He said each crews has several stories from over the years, some funny, sad, and some tragic.

    "We all have those kinds of events that mark our lives," he added.

    "I spent 16 tears flying search and rescue myself; there were many many journeys I took with different people over that time."

    He paid tribute to fallen colleagues who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and those who survived some of the most difficult rescues ever seen, in particular four men on two Alouettes who completed a difficult night rescue on Muckish Mountain in Co Donegal in August 1977 by one shining a light down on the other.

    "We have a motto here, That Others May Live ," Lt Col Clancy added.

    "It's that motto that these people have exemplified and lived through their actions."
    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news...-29786356.html

  12. #8
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    Air Corps celebrates 50 years of Defence Forces helicopters

    http://www.rte.ie/news/player/2013/1...s-helicopters/

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  14. #9
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    "4 Eurocopters"? 2 more must have slipped in while I was lookin the other way....
    "We will hold out until our last bullet is spent. Could do with some whiskey"
    Radio transmission, siege of Jadotville DR Congo. September 1961.
    Illegitimi non carborundum

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  16. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turkey View Post
    "4 Eurocopters"? 2 more must have slipped in while I was lookin the other way....
    The other two are GASU.

  17. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodes View Post
    The other two are GASU.
    Yeah, not Air Corps...
    "We will hold out until our last bullet is spent. Could do with some whiskey"
    Radio transmission, siege of Jadotville DR Congo. September 1961.
    Illegitimi non carborundum

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  19. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turkey View Post
    Yeah, not Air Corps...
    They're operated by the Air Corps and have Air Corps numbers.

  20. #13
    Moderator DeV's Avatar
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    Has to be the most decorated unit in the DF

    http://source.southdublinlibraries.i..._Citations.pdf

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  22. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeV View Post
    Has to be the most decorated unit in the DF

    http://source.southdublinlibraries.i..._Citations.pdf
    Read post #7.

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  24. #15
    Closed Account Goldie fish's Avatar
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    No mention of the "Garda" Puma.

  25. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goldie fish View Post
    No mention of the "Garda" Puma.
    It was never operated by the Air Corps. More like a wet lease from the Bundesgrenzschutz. I.e. German pilots. The only Air Corps connection was a liaison role for local geographical knowledge.

  26. #17
    BQMS Meatbomb's Avatar
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    No mention of the S61 AKA SK 257 either

  27. #18
    Closed Account Goldie fish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetjock View Post
    It was never operated by the Air Corps. More like a wet lease from the Bundesgrenzschutz. I.e. German pilots. The only Air Corps connection was a liaison role for local geographical knowledge.
    I remember hearing of an army officer who gained crewmans wings for his weekend aboard the Bundesgrenshuz machine.

  28. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meatbomb View Post
    No mention of the S61 AKA SK 257 either
    And then there were 2 gazelles....... Nit Pickery at it's finest.
    "We will hold out until our last bullet is spent. Could do with some whiskey"
    Radio transmission, siege of Jadotville DR Congo. September 1961.
    Illegitimi non carborundum

  29. #20
    Space Lord of Terra morpheus's Avatar
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    Theres a gazelle in the picture!?
    "He is an enemy officer taken in battle and entitled to fair treatment."
    "No, sir. He's a sergeant, and they don't deserve no respect at all, sir. I should know. They're cunning and artful, if they're any good. I wouldn't mind if he was an officer, sir. But sergeants are clever."

  30. #21
    bosun
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    lt Kelly was the first pilot on eithne p31..i think he was a lt/col then... he could handle her in any weather..nice man,,,pity the whole idea fell apart,,,

  31. #22
    Commander in Chief hptmurphy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by golden rivet View Post
    lt Kelly was the first pilot on eithne p31..i think he was a lt/col then... he could handle her in any weather..nice man,,,pity the whole idea fell apart,,,
    He was indeed, nice guy.
    Just visiting

  32. #23
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    VIDEO: Watch Army Rangers fast rope from a chopper under cover of darkness over the Curragh

    http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish...s-fast-2853832

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  34. #24
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    Several of the older pilots used to moan that they wanted the DoD to buy Alouette IIs, to spare the IIIs for operations, because so much flying time was lost to pranged-in-training IIIs being repaired. The II would have been so useful for the kind of running around that the Alouette III ended up doing.
    regards
    GttC

  35. #25
    Sqdn. Ldr Silver's Avatar
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    Its a pity that an 'Open Day' or 'Photo Call' (involving aircraft from the Coast Guard, RAF, RCAF, HMCG etc) wasnt organised to mark the occassion?

    Perhaps we will see a book or a brochure (like the 1993 '30 Years of Heli Ops' brochure) published?
    ...and/or a commemorative patch?!
    IRISH AIR CORPS - Serving the Nation.

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