Apprentices restore world record breaking G-LYNX
Today marks 30 years since a Westland Lynx set a new helicopter World Speed Record. The Company Lynx demonstrator, known by its civil registration G-LYNX, achieved an average speed of 400.87 km/h over a fixed 15km course over the Somerset Levels.
In tribute to the outstanding achievement, a group of apprentices from Leonardo Helicopters restored the record-breaking helicopter, which still holds the record 30 years later.
On 11 August 1986, the Company Lynx demonstrator, known by its civil registration G-LYNX, achieved an average speed of 400.87 km/h over a fixed 15km course above the Somerset Levels. The fact that this record remains unbroken after 30 years highlights what a remarkable achievement it was.
To render the aircraft capable of reaching such high speeds, G-LYNX underwent a 10 week modification programme. It retained the basic airframe, rotor and transmission system of the standard Lynx, but was fitted with new advanced composite main rotor blades developed under the British Experimental Rotor Programme (BERP), led by Westland Helicopters in Yeovil. The overall weight of the aircraft was reduced and it was fitted with a modified tailplane. To boost its power, it was fitted with Rolls-Royce Gem 60 engines and a water-methanol injection system. Many employees had worked around the clock to prepare the aircraft for its record-breaking attempt.
On the evening of 11 August 1986, G-LYNX performed two runs along the 15km course piloted by Trevor Egginton with Flight Test Engineer Derek Clews alongside. It officially achieved an average of 400.87 km/h and a best speed of 412.93 km/h on one run, decisively smashing the existing record, which had been held since 1978 by a modified Russian Mil Mi-24 Hind.
Trevor and Derek were subsequently awarded the Royal Aero Club’s Britannia Trophy, for the British aviator or aviators accomplishing the most meritorious performance in aviation, while the Company was awarded the Igor I. Sikorsky Trophy for its record-breaking effort.
G-LYNX was later used to develop the T800 engines which now power the Super Lynx and AW159 Wildcat.
2016 marks both the 30th anniversary of the World Speed Record and the 45th anniversary of the first flight of the Westland Lynx. To commemorate this achievement, a brand new film called ‘Westland One’ has been released, made by Yeovil College students using Company archive footage. A commemorative plaque was unveiled near the village of Westhay.