Construction and Usage

Built in 1980 as c/n 8595,[1] G-BHXU was acquired by Alan Mann Helicopters on 17 July 1980,[2] before being passed to Castle Air Charters Ltd on 24 September 1981.[3] In later years it was repainted entirely white for an episode of "Wycliffe", in which the pilot Keith Thompson had a role as a Police pilot.[4]


At 15:10 hours on 29 June 1995, G-BHXU ditched into the sea 14 miles North of Alderney, Channel Islands, due to failure of engine and/or transmission (gearbox), whilst on a ferry/positioning flight from its base at Liskeard, Cornwall to Deauville, France. As the aircraft sank soon after ditching, and was not recovered, the absolute cause of the accident could not be determined.

The crew of 2 were able to send a MAYDAY call, and radio their position, with the transmission being relayed to Jersey Airport by a Piper PA-28 in the area. The crew managed to escape from the sinking helicopter, and were rescued by a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from RNAS Portland, which had them lifted from the sea by 15:38 hours.

According to the eyewitness report: "The engine gear box packed & engine stopped 17 miles from Alderney at 1,000 feet. Michael carried out engine off landing & ditched in sea - aircraft rolled over and started to sink in about one second. Escaped under water using short term air supply system (STASS) (first time used by civilian crew in anger). The 2 crew were picked up by the Navy about 45 mins later, and flown to Guernsey, then back to base with Keith in G-TELY. Rigged the spare (G-SPEY), left at dawn the next day to France and completed job on time. G-BHXU sank & was not recovered."

Registration G-BHXU was cancelled by the CAA on 28 July 1995 as aircraft "destroyed".[5] When Treasure Hunt was briefly revived, G-BHXU's role as the 'Skyrunner' helicopter was taken by G-ONTV.