Alan Bristow: Helicopter Pioneer: The Autobiography

By Alan Bristow

Alan Bristow, founding father of Bristow Helicopters, died on April 26, 2009, seven days after finishing his autobiography. He used to be a very outstanding guy; his full-page obituary used to be released within the occasions and The day-by-day Telegraph. As a service provider military officer cadet throughout the conflict Bristow survived sinkings, performed a component within the evacuation of Rangoon and was once credited with capturing down Stukas in North Africa. He joined the Fleet Air Arm and educated as one of many first British helicopter pilots, he used to be the 1st guy to land a helicopter on a battleship and have become Westland’s first helicopter attempt pilot. Sacked for knocking out the revenues supervisor, he flew in France, Holland, Algeria, Senegal and in other places, narrowly escaping many helicopter crashes sooner than successful the Croix de Guerre evacuating wounded French infantrymen in Indochina. For 4 years he flew for Aristotle Onassis’s pirate whaling fleet in Antarctica prior to becoming a member of Douglas Bader and supplying aid providers to grease drillers within the Persian Gulf. Out of that grew Bristow Helicopters Ltd, the most important helicopter corporation on this planet outdoor America

Bristow’s circle incorporated the good helicopter pioneers reminiscent of Igor Sikorsky and Stan Hiller, attempt pilots like Harold Penrose and invoice Waterton, Sheiks and Shahs and political leaders, company giants like Lord Cayzer and Freddie Laker – with whom he tossed a coin for £67,000 in 1969 – and the writer James Clavell, a lifelong buddy whose publication 'Whirlwind' was once a fictionalized account of Bristow’s in a single day evacuation of his humans and helicopters from innovative Iran. Bristow represented nice Britain at 4 in hand carriage using with the Duke of Edinburgh and triggered the ‘Westland Affair’ whilst he made a takeover bid which finally ended in the resignation of Michael Heseltine and Leon Brittain, and nearly to the downfall of Margaret Thatcher.

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Certainly, they have been sending basically their top pilots for helicopter education. i used to be one in every of approximately twelve naval pilots with adventure of helicopter operations, and so far as flight hours have been involved i'd were within the best 3. I had validated approaches for touchdown on battleships and frigates at sea. an enduring fee was once a flattering proposition that promised speedy promoting to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, with sturdy customers of additional promoting because the Royal military invested in additional and extra helicopters. Osborn had requested me for a answer once attainable. i made a decision to refer to my father, whom I hadn’t noticeable for greater than a 12 months. He was once now operating on the Admiralty in London, and over a lager at domestic in Sutton I requested him for his suggestion prior to I made a long term dedication. ‘What yr have been you at Dartmouth,’ he requested. ‘Dad,’ I stated, ‘You comprehend I’m an RNVR wartime officer knowledgeable to be a pilot, and that i didn’t visit Dartmouth. ’ ‘Exactly,’ my father stated. He checked out me very without delay. ‘You needs to keep in mind that a time will come, when you settle for this provide, and assuming you get your brass hat within the rank of commander, that merchandising thereafter will be decided at interview. one of many questions the Admiralty Board may ask you is, “What yr have been you at Dartmouth, Bristow? ” ’ He used to be completely correct. ‘Dad,’ I stated, ‘you’ve made your element crystal transparent. ’ ‘Don’t thank me. That interview technique is a pivotal truth of naval lifestyles. ’ From that second on I knew that I wouldn’t make a occupation within the Royal military, and with demob simply six months away I declined Osborn’s supply. the choice was once the ideal one, however it moved me right into a interval of uncertainty. My complete lifestyles for the former six years were to do with the ocean, within the service provider military and the Fleet Air Arm, and that i had performed very well. Now, i used to be to begin back as a civilian. In July 1946, i used to be demobilised from the Fleet Air Arm and entirely forgot approximately helicopters, the army and my viewers from Westland. bankruptcy nine try Pilot donning my demob swimsuit and hat I strode out of my wife’s sister’s domestic in Woodford and stuck a Piccadilly Line Underground teach to St James’s, and thence to the workplaces of my new employers, R. ok. Dundas, the place I had received a place as a salesperson of airfield apparatus – fireplace engines, lights, runway paint, VHF transceivers, whatever an aerodrome may perhaps require. Mr Dundas was once an ex-RAF pilot who have been invalided out after discomfort a significant leg damage that pressured him to put on a different boot to maintain his stability, and he proved to be very important and realizing whilst in my first week at the activity I had an coincidence that used to be to impact me for the remainder of my lifestyles. It was once the morning rush hour, and that i was once status by way of the doorways as my packed Tube educate bogged down to forestall in St James’s station. there has been a unexpected piledriver blow because the carriage used to be hit via a teach that had jumped the other song, and that i used to be overwhelmed opposed to a partition by means of the great weight of a press of passengers. all of the air used to be squeezed out of me, and that i blacked out.

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