Mystery over jump-started helicopter

The Bell-type 47G helicopter apparently being jump-started by a car.
The Bell-type 47G helicopter apparently being jump-started by a car.

The organisers of the annual Lonach Highland Gathering and Games are asking for the help of the north-east public to unearth the story behind a mysterious photograph.

Earlier this year, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society asked for people to send in copies of old photographs of the event for a display to mark the 175th Lonach Highland Gathering.
Among a bundle of old slides were a number taken in Strathdon in the 1960s and 70s, which illustrate how the community has changed.
One image stood out due to its intriguing subject. It features a small helicopter which appears to have landed on the A944, the main road through the village of Bellabeg where the gathering is held, and looks to be being jumped-started by a car.
The car is believed to be a Rover 2000 P6 Series 1, which was produced between 1963 and 1970 and trailing from its open bonnet are what look like jump leads.
From the registration mark on its tail, the helicopter has been identified as a 1966 Bell 47G-5, which was owned by a Humberside company involved in aerial spraying. In a second slide the car is gone and helicopter’s rotors are turning and it looks set for take-off.
The society is now asking for anyone who can shed light on the picture to get in touch with them.
Society secretary and chief executive, Jennifer Stewart, said: “We had a great response to our appeal for old pictures, which turned up some fantastic images. Some were more curious than others and left us scratching our heads and asking a number of questions.
“The visitor response to the display at this year’s gathering provided information about some of those pictures.
“The picture in question was in a box of slides marked Strathdon and Lonach that was donated to us. The person who took the slides died a few years ago and their family had never seen the slides before so couldn’t shed any light on the image. It had us stumped.
“Did a car really jump start a helicopter on the main road in Bellabeg? It’s all very peculiar, but there must be an intriguing story behind it. These types of unusual events play an important part in the history of our local communities. Does anyone remember it happening, if so when was it? Somebody is bound to be able to fill in all the details, and it would be great to hear from them.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the society via its Facebook or Twitter pages, or by e-mailing info@lonach.org.