10-Oct-2010 Source: The Helicopter Museum
The Helicopter Museum at Weston-super-Mare in Somerset has secured another First for a UK aviation collection, with the addition of an ex-Italian Guardia di Finanza Agusta A109GdiF helicopter. The aircraft is the first all-Italian aircraft and second addition this year to the Museumâ€™s helicopter collection. The helicopter was unveiled by UK Tourism Minister John Penrose and officially handed over to the Museum by Graham Cole, AgustaWestlandâ€™s Managing Director during a ceremony held at the Museum on 8th October.
Following a first flight in 1971 the twin-engined A109 was the first all-Italian helicopter to enter large scale production, and the first to adopt the sleek lines and styling common among more modern helicopters of today. Since its introduction the basic design has been constantly upgraded and improved over the years and the aircraft is in worldwide service for military, corporate, search and rescue, air ambulance, law enforcement and other missions.
The Guardia di Finanza, which is a parapublic organisation equating to a national customs and immigration force, purchased its own variant of the A109 during the 1980s to patrol Italyâ€™s borders and territorial waters. It has recently been taking delivery of the new generation AW109N Nexus to replace the older aircraft and declared the A109 surplus to requirements earlier this year. The acquisition by The Helicopter Museum was supported personally by the Chief Executive Officer of manufacturer AgustaWestland, Giuseppe Orsi, and the company also sponsored shipment of the helicopter from Frosinone, Rome, where it has been stored since withdrawal from service last June.
In addition to the Tourism Minister and senior representatives of AgustaWestland, volunteers who work on aircraft restoration and other activities at the museum were also present.
The Helicopter Museum holds the worldâ€™s largest dedicated collection of rotary-wing aircraft, with some 60 percent listed in the highest â€œBenchmarkâ€ category in the National Aviation Heritage Register.
The A109GdiF allocated to the Museum is serial MM81205 c/n 7336, which was the sixth example for the Guardia di Finanza and was delivered in 1986. It was retired from use in June2010 and returned to AgustaWestland for storage prior to arriving at the Museum.
Photo caption – from left – Graham Cole, AW Managing Director; John Penrose, Tourism Minister; Elfan ap Rees, Chairman of Museum Trustees