3-Jun-2013 Source: The Helicopter Museum
A Volunteer Team at the Helicopter Museum (THM) at Weston-Super-Mare, affectionately known as “The Yeovilteenies”, has just completed the static restoration of a 1950s De Havilland Gypsy Major piston engine, for display alongside the Saunders-Roe Skeeter Mk.12 helicopter from the same period in the Museum’s collection.
The three man team, led by 88 year old retired engineer Derek Moxley all live in the Yeovil area, hence the nickname, and are regular volunteers at THM. Following previous projects carried out by the team, they spent over 600 man hours at weekends over an eighteen month period to rebuild the engine from components and spares to show visitors the Skeeter powerplant outside the airframe. A second engine is installed in the helicopter but is not easily visible to the public.
“The Skeeter was one of the first British helicopters to go into production, when developing lightweight engines for vertical take off was in its infancy. Consequently the 200hp Gypsy Major was really rather large and overweight for helicopter use and it was a standing joke that on a hot day in Europe – when the air was thin – pilots struggled to get airborne” said Restoration Manager Rod Holloway. “By putting this immaculately restored engine on display we hope the public will better appreciate the weight challenge!”
THM has over 100 aero engines in its collection, dating from the early 1930s and including those installed in the aircraft on display. The Museum has also more than 75 volunteers working to maintain the world’s largest dedicated rotorcraft collection and provide other services, with specialist teams like the “Yeovilteenies” taking on specific engineering projects and others carrying out more general work. New volunteers, especially those with specific skills, are always welcomed to help form new teams whilst others are welcomed to provide visitor services support in the retail and other areas of the Museum’s operation.