While filming Frontline Battle Machines
in Afghanistan, Mike Brewer was aboard a Chinook describing the vital work that these helicopters do in the theatre of war when the vehicle was sent on an urgent MERT mission to pick up servicemen injured in a firefight with the Taliban. During the rescue the pilot, Ian Fortune, was shot in the head, but courageously managed to land the aircraft.
Back at base - as Ian was patched up - Mike found out that the helicopter, Bravo November, was The longest serving helicopter in the Royal Air Force. This ignited in him a desire to discover the full story behind the aircraft and the Chinook fleet it is still part of.
Bravo November has been in service since 1982 and has served in the Falkland Islands, Lebanon, Germany, Northern Ireland, Kurdistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. And it was in the Falklands where it first entered the public consciousness.
This Liberation Monument stands in commemoration of the lives that were lost in the liberation of the Falkland Islands.
In April 1982 Bravo November was loaded, along with three other Chinooks, aboard the container ship Atlantic Conveyor bound for the Falkland Islands. The ship was hit by an Exocet missile destroying the vessel along with its cargo. Bravo November was on an airborne task at the time and managed to land on HMS Hermes, gaining the nickname "The Survivor".
Mike tracks down those who knew the aircraft then, including Andy Lawless, co-pilot on Bravo November in the Falklands. Together Mike and Andy then embark on the almost 8,000 mile journey to the islands and revisit the battlegrounds where the war was won.
Mike visits Philadelphia - the birthplace of the Chinook to see what makes this unique looking aircraft so successful. Then it’s off to Gosport to see how the helicopters are being developed for the future. The addition of new technology, including state of the art ‘glass cockpits’ and larger fuel tanks to increase range is enabling the Chinook force to continue to play a vital role in combat today.
NEXT: FACTS ABOUT THE CHINOOK