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Dartmouth 'rotor station'
Hi guys going back to childhood holidays in Devon in the 70's I remember a heliport on the hill to the west of Dartmouth. It covered a couple of acres and had a hangar and a couple of outbuildings. I remember it had a sign saying something like 'Dartmouth rotorstation', it was very close to the road. Never saw any choppers there despite driving past it for a week a year for about 5 years! Anybody know it's correct name and have any photos?
Probably this place ...
Dartmouth /Norton: heliport disused.50.20.50/03.36.01(Royal Navy).
I have pics of Norton somewhere
Thanks guys, Norton does ring a bell. I remember a large sign at the entrance saying 'something' rotorstation,must have been norton. From what I remember it was in a very windswept location and had no other buildings around it. They must have redeveloped the whoe area. A photo or two would be great.
Here is the CT and hangar
Richard E Flagg
When were thos photos taken Paul?
Does anyone know when the place opened and closed?
Did it have a RN name "HMS Whatever"?
Interesting photo, the tower was certianlly an addition since I can remember it in the late 70's.
Did anybody see anthing there ,ever? Wrecks and Relics 1974 describes the following 'The Norton helicopter station at the Britannia Royal Naval College keep for instructional purposes Dragonfly VZ962 , plus an unknown Wessex front end'. So i presume it was used for some sort of basic tech training for future pilots and for visiting choppers?
Thought I'd drag this one to the top again and see if recent the influx of new members might add anything to the rather slender known facts.
What would be nice would be ...
Official name, date of opening, date of closure,
If actually used for flying ...what was the callsign/airfield designator (EGxx) if it had one ?
Any other info whatsover- perhaps someone has pictures of helicopters actually at the place?
Anything at all.
I have established that flying certainly was taking place in 1973...
"XT442 :Wasp AS1 d/d 21 Apr 1966. w/o 12 Dec 1973 with Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) Flight, crashed on take off from Norton Heliport, Dartmouth"
Went on a ride down to Dartmouth today - all the excitement of a day shopping ....whoopee...what a thrill!!
Anyway , by pure chance(of course- never let it be said I would purposefully divert from the route to the shops) we went past the Norton site.
The tower still stands(looking a little out-of-place ) right beside the road at the entrance to some kind of Fitness centre and a Lidl supermarket.
There are no other remaining signs of any aviation connection - nothing to actually tell anyone what the tower was for, although a receptionist guy in the fitness place(who didn't look at all fit!) did actually know that their building was built more or less on the site of the hangar.
Sorry the pictures are a bit gloomy - about 30 seconds after I took them we had a downpour that would have sent Noah running for his ark-building tools.
I will take this opportunity to repeat my appeal in the preceding post for any info at all about the use of this place.
Just to add to the above - here is a 1961 photo someone sent me that shows an S51 Dragonfly at the nearby Royal Naval College where the "Britannia Helicopter Flight "was a apparently established.
The CT looks like a lighthouse... !
I remember this place from annual family holidays to Dartmouth in the '80s. We used to drive past the place going in and out of town most days, but I never saw any flying taking place (or anything on the ground for that matter). If I had, it'd certainly remember it. Of course, that could simply a case of right place, wrong time! For example, I believe that since Norton closed Merlins and others now have to land on the BNRC sports grounds... so Norton must have seen some flying, back then when there were many more helos in the FAA.
Have had questions about this place posted on ABiX, Key Forums and MSF Yahoo list...
So far the information returned is as follows....
In the 70s the BRNC (Britannia Royal Naval College ) Flight kept a single Wasp and pilot with ground support crew there . The principal role was to provide "air experience" to the all the OUT's - introducing them used to an aviation environment, dangerous rotating blades, noise and so on.source (A graduate of Britannia College) said all OUTs were given a short trip in the Wasp as part of this training.
Pre-Wasp the BRNC (Britannia Royal naval College ) Flight may have used a Dragonfly.
Wasp(XT442) crashed there on take of 12 Dec 1973, Wasp XS535 used in 1977, and according to one reply , helicopters still occasionally visit the site using the Park and Ride car park.
The hangar was gone by 1999.(Google Earth historical shows an empty space for 99).
One other reply states that there was a short N-S grass runway- and that Plymouth based Chipmunks were rumored to have visited ....This is difficult to believe as the longest possible run in the adjacent grass field would have been 330 yards...however maybe someone can confirm or deny this?
Dragonfly HR.1 VZ962 was used as an instructional airframe at Norton Helicopter Station- in the hangar in 1974/78,also the front end of an unidentified Wessex, .
Not much yet , but a whole lot more than we knew before.
Still lacking opening and closure dates, ICAO code.
Additional information just received via Air Britain Info Exchange indicates that the Heliport was in use at least as early as 1963 and that the hangar had been constructed by then.
According to the information the place was quite busy at that time with plenty of flying - not just for the BRNC Flight - but also used in NATO Exercises in Sept 1963.
JUst to say that all the new info above has been incorporated in my Dartmouth Norton webpage.
At the risk of getting repetitious , we still lack dates for opening and closure...and ICAO code if any.
Also , did it have any life ,after the RN quit ,as a civilian site?
I do know that civil helicopters still use the carpark area on a "casual " basis but I am wondering if there has ever been any more formal use/occupancy.
Richard E Flagg
I can't see anything yet on the ICAO lists I have dave, I am still working through them (slowly) but if I do find anything I'll let you know.
OK Richard ...it is possible it never had a code - but , given that almost every other heliport/helicopter base of any size civil or military(EG: Southampton heliport) got one it seems fairly likely this place must have had one - or if not , at least some kind of official designation.
I think even the various names "Norton rotor station", Dartmouth heliport" do not sound very "naval"....maybe it had some kind of "HMS xxxx" name in it's heyday.
It really does seem to slipped under the radar - just about the only responses I have had when enquiring about it have been from a couple of people who actually flew there , and two who holidayed in Dartmouth area and found it that way.
If you think of the number of aircraft Spotters in this country it is fairly amazing that it seems not to have made it into any of the spotting magazines ...particularly as it seems to have been quite a busy place at times.
Newcomer to this web site and thus a bit late to this thread, I'm afraid. There's a very brief article on Norton in Flight Deck the Journal of Naval Aviation, No.2 for 1986 on p.17. (see picture, below). As far as I can see, there was no ICAO code for Norton (and specifically, nothing shown in the 20 June 1974 RAF En route Supplement for British Isles and North Atlantic.
As far as the BRNC Dartmouth site (to the north of the town) is concerned, the 11 Sep 2007 edition of United Kingdom Helicopter Landing Sites p.83 shows 3 landing areas, each with a different surface (concrete, tarmac and grass) around the site. Although no official (ICAO) code is used, the Sea King HAR.3 "data lookup" codes are EGD05, EGD07 and EGD04 respectively. Now if I can work out how to upload a photo, I'll do that next.
This is from the Flight Deck article. Legend above the Hangar reads "Norton Heliport BRNC" and there is a Disney-type cartoon dogs head (Droopy ?) as a badge.
:o Apologies about interference between scanner resolution and the original dot spacing in printing of the image in the article.
The post above appears to be missing its photo...?
Here is another photo from the Spring 1961 edition of Flight Deck journal, in an article simply titled Dartmouth:
BRNC Dartmouth heliport circa 1960-1 edited (http://www.flickr.com/photos/andy-ford/10626821675/) by Andy L.J. Ford (http://www.flickr.com/people/andy-ford/), on Flickr
The caption reads "Britannia Helicopter Flight of two Dragonflies is near to the College. Air Cadets do some helicopter flying"
Thanks for posting the picture. If you have no objection I'll add it to my Norton webpage.....
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