On 18th January 1957 the first Army Skeeter was collected from Eastleigh and flown to Middle Wallop. However, despite being a delight to fly, the aircraft’s service was short-lived owing to limited engine performance and no external load capability. The aircraft left Army Air Corps service in 1967 after considerable operational service.
She is a non-flying aircraft within the Historic Aircraft Flight.
In 1945 the Army’s attention was attracted to the possibility of the helicopter for AOP duties and on 1 September 1947 Captain P R D Wilson RA made history by conducting the first AOP shoot from an Army helicopter. The inadequacies of the in-service R6B (Hoverfly 2) and the shortage of spares were such that it was abandoned. It was a further ten years before the helicopter was to enter Army service in the observation role.
During the 1940s Cierva developed a light, two seater, piston engined helicopter as an aerial observation platform. However, the Cierva company merged with Saunders-Roe Ltd and the aircraft became known as the Saunders-Roe (Saro) Skeeter. Saunders-Roe Ltd were soon taken over by Westland Helicopters and the Skeeter was renamed the Westland Skeeter.