Aircraft Type Photo
BELOW: A British Army Westland Gazelle AH1 (Aérospatiale SA 341B) helicopter during exercise "Checkered Flag '83" at Ahlhorn air base, Lower Saxony, Germany, on 25 May 1983. [Wikipedia]
Photo: 1983 TSgt. Dennis Plummer, U.S. Defenseimagry.mil
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Aircraft Type and Background
Army Air Corps (Aérospatiale) Westland Gazelle AH.I * / XX401
* Army Helicopter Mark 1
The Aérospatiale (formerly, Sud Aviation) Gazelle was manufactured in France. It was a single turbine engine lightweight general purpose helicopter with five seats. The aircraft was also manufactured under licence in the UK as the Westland Gazelle—the type featured on this page.
At the time of the accident, the Gazelle featured here was based on HMS Intrepid (since decommissioned)—a warship which was capable of carrying 5 Westland Gazelle helicopters.
BELOW: Picture of HMS Intrepid (L11) taken in Hong Kong in 1968. HMAS Perth (D38) in background.
Photo: 1968 'Nogginnog'
Aircraft Accident Details
Westland Gazelle XX401 was operating from the warship, HMS Intrepid. The helicopter was engaged in the exercise 'Teamwork 80' which involved service personnel from the Army Air Corps, the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and other service units.
However, while the aircraft was flying over Sutherland in northern Scotland, it crashed into a hill near the village of Balnakeil.1 The three Royal Marine personnel on board the helicopter died in this incident.
Balnakeil was built in the 1950's by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as an early warning station against nuclear attack. However, the station was never commissioned. In 1964, the ex-military buildings were made available for civilian use. Balnakeil is now a craft village.
Aircraft Crew Casualties
Those who lost their lives in this incident were:
Crash Date / Site
Accident Date: 15 Sep 1980
Balnakeil (hill in this vicinity)
Region: Highland (Sutherland)
Nearest town or village:
Nearest large town:
None in this general area.
OS Grid Ref: N/A
GPS Ref. N/A
Present Condition: No known remains.
Registration or Serial: XX401
Operator: Army Air Corps (3 CBAS / 670 Sqdn "C1" Eagles)
Operating Station: HMS Intrepid.
Operating Station Location: Mobile (RN warship).
Current Station Status: HMS Intrepid decommissioned. Scrapped in Liverpool in 2008.
(Had been built 1962-64 by John Brown and Co., Clydebank.)
Principal airport data courtesy of John Woodside, A Catalogue of UK Airfields
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Westland Gazelle XX401
Balnakeil, Durness, Sutherland