Princess Diana: Dickie Arbiter recalls 'rotten' flight experience
The Royal Family were some of the first to adopt the use of helicopters into their travel methods, according to a Channel 5 documentary. In fact, that’s to its “speedy”, the helicopter rapidly became a favourite mode of travel for royals including Princess Diana.
Speaking during ’Secrets of the Royal Flight’, aviation journalist Keith Wilson said: “The Royal Family were very early users of helicopters.”
The documentary narrator added: “Easy, speedy and perfect for short domestic trips anywhere around the UK for many years the Windsors relied on the bespoke royal Wessex of the Queen’s flight.”
However, though their luxuriously revamped Wessex helicopter was great for quick domestic journeys, there were some rather unfortunate downsides.
Former royal engineer Barry Kelly revealed a rather “hilarious” blunder during one journey he made during which he was acting both as engineer and steward onboard the helicopter.
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The helicopter housed a “catering box” at the back of the vehicle, which was used to prepare meals, snacks and beverages for the Royal Family members flying.
“In here you would have cups and saucers and crystal glasses. And in the lower portion of the catering box you would have for flasks and a work surface here,” Barry explained as he showed cameras around make-shift kitchen quarters of the helicopter.
“So, you would literally get a cup out, make a cup of tea, close it all back up again.
“Not very easy at 90 miles an hour, 1200 feet while this thing is shaking around like a mad thing.”
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Mr Kelly continued: “On one instance we were flying a very senior member of the royal family. He asked me could he have an egg sandwich.
“I said: ‘Of course sir.’ So stand up, walked up to the table.
There were papers all over the desk and he said: ‘Well put it on the end.’
“I said: ‘It is going to fall off.’
He said: ‘No put it on the end.’
“And then I just sat back and watched it from here go flop on the floor.
“His royal highness said: ‘Have you got another one?’
“I said: ‘Of course, sir.” And put it in the middle of the table this time. It was hilarious.”
Despite the bumpy ride, the Royal Family’s helicopter was not your average helicopter.
Instead, the vehicle was kitted out with all manner of luxury to ensure they had the most comfortable journey possible.
The helicopter, which was adopted into the family in 1950 was complete with aeroplane-style cosy seats and even tables
Mr Kelly explained: “A normal Wessex has none of this.
“There is lots of whirring and noises and hydraulic oil dripping on everybody.
“It is not a very pleasant place to be but these aircraft, they are soundproof, they’ve got carpets, they’ve got velour on the walls and it is really quite comfortable.”
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