Royal Navy helicopter lost for 60 years identified in Lough Foyle

The wreckage of a rare Royal Navy helicopter that crashed off the coast of Northern Ireland 60 years ago has been discovered.

he Westland Dragonfly went down in Lough Foyle during a salvage exercise in 1958.

It had operated as an air-sea search and rescue helicopter based at the Royal Naval Air Station Eglinton, now Derry Airport.

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Photo of a similar model Dragonfly from 1955 – image of the Fleet Air Arms Officers Association

The remains of the boat have now been identified as part of a coastal survey.

LiDAR topographic and orthophotography surveying provides high-resolution aerial, near-infrared, and 3D laser scans of the ground surface.

It shows how the coast currently looks and identifies numerous historic wrecks, castles and wharves.

While most have already been included in the Historic Environment Record of Northern Ireland (Heroni), more than 150 new heritage sites have been discovered.

Remains of the Dragonfly were first spotted on aerial photographs of Lough Foyle before further physical inspection of the site revealed the wreckage of a very early model helicopter lying on the shingle bank on its starboard (right) side.

Although badly corroded, the helicopter’s frame and its three rotor blades were mostly intact, with remnants of the Royal Navy stencils still discernible on the tail boom.

It has been identified as a 1955 Westland Dragonfly naval air-sea search and rescue helicopter based at Royal Naval Air Station Eglinton, now Derry Airport.

The helicopter had come down on November 25, 1958 during a recovery exercise.

The exact location of the wreckage is not released as the crash site is on dangerous soft sediment and there is a significant number of potentially living WWII and post-war ordnance at the site.

More information about the find will be available on a new coastal information website, The Northern Ireland Coastal Observatory, to be launched by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in the near future.

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/royal-navy-helicopter-lost-for-60-years-identified-in-lough-foyle-42116930.html Royal Navy helicopter lost for 60 years identified in Lough Foyle

Linh

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