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Success for British teams in World Helicopter Championship

Two helicopter crews from the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury have returned from Russia where they successfully competed in the 2012 FAI World Helicopter Championship (WHC).

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The Defence Helicopter Flying School teams

The Defence Helicopter Flying School teams with a Squirrel helicopter at the 2012 FAI World Helicopter Championship [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The competition, in its 14th year, was held outside the Russian capital with two teams from the British Services taking part.

The Helicopter Club of Great Britain invited the crews to compete as part of the British team following their successes at the British and German Championships in 2011.

The Championship requires the crews to exercise their skills through a number of flying tests including an obstacle course which involves dangling a bucket of water below the helicopter whilst negotiating a slalom course.

The two teams comprised instructors from the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS), whose day job is to teach all UK military helicopter pilots and crews for all three Services.

The main team, comprising Squadron Leader Craig Finch and Mr John ‘JJ’ Jackson, an ex-RAF airman, are the current British champions, and were successful at both the UK and European competitions.

Also taking part in the competition was the second team, which paired Flight Lieutenant Mark Lazenby with Lieutenant Jim Fraser of the Royal Navy and was managed by Flying Officer Ryan Stowe.

The two Squirrel helicopters flown by the British teams were provided by FBHeliservices who own and operate the aircraft flown at RAF Shawbury. Mr Gareth Mayfield from FBHeliservices travelled with the aircraft to provide engineering support throughout the Championship. The company has been instrumental in ensuring that the teams have been able to compete at the highest level.

The Championship ran from 22 to 26 August at Drakino Airfield in Russia, with 50 teams taking part from across the world. Twenty-five of those teams were made up of Russian or Belarusian crews.

Six teams competed for the team prize with the UK pairing of Finch and Jackson taking the silver medal having finished a creditable second behind Russia. In the overall competition the pair finished 13th out of 50 whilst the pairing of Lazenby/Fraser finished in 30th place.

The medal presentation took place on Sunday 26 August and was attended by the Moscow Defence Attache.

Flight Lieutenant Lazenby said:

The DHFS crews’ attendance at the WHC reflected their pre-eminence at the National Helicopter Championships and their long-standing success at these and other international events.

The successful performance of the DHFS crews ably demonstrated the professionalism and skill of UK military aircrew and the success of the military/civil partnership at DHFS.

The lead DHFS team was the highest-ranked team outside of Russia/Belarus, beating all military and civilian crews from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, China, Poland, France and Belgium.

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Published 5 September 2012