Back in familiar territory

IT was a homecoming of sorts for a former navy helicopter at the weekend.

A Bell 206B-1 Kiowa, which was used as a utility, communications and survey helicopter in the Royal Australian Navy from 1973 until 1990, has returned to the local area after being purchased by the RAN Historic Flight.

The helicopter was one of five that operated with 723 Squadron at HMAS Albatross.

Greg Morris from RAN Historic Flight, along with driver Brad Scott from Jascott Express, transported the helicopter from Oakey in Queensland back to the local naval base.

A number of local naval personnel would remember the Kiowa, having both flown and worked on them over the years.

The aircraft was the first of 72 Kiowas to be license-built in Australia by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and was delivered directly to the navy in 1973 for operations aboard survey ship HMAS Moresby, replacing the Westland Scout. 

The navy operated two of the Kiowas and at one stage had up to five in service. 

They also embarked for brief periods on board HMAS Stalwart, Sydney, 

Adelaide, Tobruk and Jervis Bay as light utility aircraft.

In 1990 they were deemed no longer required by the navy and returned to the army, which still operates them to train helicopter pilots.

In army service the helicopter operated until 2007 when it was placed into storage. 

Late last month the army decided to dispose of 10 of the helicopters with the RAN Historic Flight placing a successful bid to obtain the aircraft.

The historic flight group intend to operate the helicopter, getting it airborne once again.

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