Making it's RIAT debut at this year's event is Westland Wessex HU.5 XT761. The Westland Wessex had a distinguished career with both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force seeing extensive use in combat, particularly in the Falkland Islands Conflict however, it will be best known for saving countless lives whilst being operated in the Search and Rescue role. The first Wessex entered service in 1961 in the anti-submarine role but was soon found to be a very capable SAR helicopter, only being finally retired from duty at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus during 2003. Many will also remember the Wessex from it's role as part of the Queens Royal Flight where they transported the Royal Family around the UK on their public engagements. The example on display at this year's RIAT will be a Royal Navy HU.5 variant, one of the most powerful versions built which served with the Fleet Air Arm until 1988. This particular airframe served with distinction from 1966 until 1983 prior to being placed into storage or being used for ground instruction. Resplendent in its original Blue and Red colour scheme XT761 was returned to flight by Historic Helicopters in 2019.
Photo Credit: Peter Reoch
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