The First Leg - 1st December 1964 to 24th May 1965.
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THE LOSS OF HELICOPTER 295
Wednesday 24th March 1965 - Exercise FOTEX 65
On Wednesday 24th March 1965 a helicopter of 820 Squadron ditched into the sea off the Port beam of Eagle.
Number 295 was flying close to Eagle as Flying Exercises were taking place for the fixed wing airplanes. At the time no-one had any ideas as to why, suddenly, 295 lost all power and dropped into the sea.
Normally in such circumstances there are three inflatable balls one attached to each wheel of the helicopter, which should inflate immediately that the helicopter ditches into the sea. These inflated balls are required to allow the helicopter to float upright whilst awaiting assistance. In this first case not all of the balls inflated and so the helicopter turned turtle very quickly.
This resulted in the death of Sub-Lt D F Clay RN and LEM N K Little
and the injury of NA Renshaw.
A SECOND HELICOPTER DITCHES
Thursday 25th March 1965 - Exercise FOTEX 65
Following the disaster of Helicopter 295, imagine the shock and horror when the very next day another helicopter of 820 Squadron also ditched.
It was with great relief that this time the inflatable balls on the wheels inflated fully and kept the helicopter upright. The crew were not injured and the helicopter was recovered.
Needless to say 820 Squadron Wessex Helicopter flying was suspended.
The Second Leg - 24th August 1965 to 22nd August 1966.
THE LOSS OF BUCCANEER
Saturday 2nd October 1965 - Exercises Aden
At just after noon, a Buccaneer from 800 Squadron, crewed by Lt-Cdr Chase USN and Lt Markley USN (two exchange officers) developed fuel problems whilst carrying out mock attacks on the ship. The aircraft lost power and was unable to maintain height, and with the plane both underpowered and oveerweight, owing to the unused fuel it was carrying, it was unable to land on board or ashore at RAF Khormaksar (surrounded by local housing). The two officers were instructed to put the Buccaneer into neutral flight and eject from 2,000 ft, as close to the ship as they possibly could. This they did and Eagle's SAR helicopter picked them up and returned them to the ship before their plane crashed into the sea.
THE LOSS OF COD Gannet
Tuesday 12th October 1965 - Flying Exercises - Aden
The set of pictures shown below are the nano second pictures taken by the official flight deck camera and you can see, if you look very carefully that each image is very slightly different from the previous one. The three strips show from left to right how the COD Gannet was launched from the catapult but, due to steam problems the COD Gannet was pulled (instead of the massive thrust it should have been) to the bow of the ship and there it dropped over the bow and was run over by the 50,000 tons of Eagle. Miraculously the three crew members somehow managed to get out and popped up in the wake of Eagle to be rescued by the SAR Helicopter.