There was a good turnout at Penzance Heliport yesterday to mark the end of BIH service to the Isles of Scilly, the end of an era and the end of a unique service shared between Scilly and Penzance. It was a service like no other that operated in just about all weathers when other services failed. It was a service important to many peoples lives and Wednesday night's send off from Penzance Heliport reflected this.
Read on for the 'final departure'
On Wednesday night, having disgorged its very last passengers, the S61 sat there on the pan at Penzance Heliport unbowed, engines roaring, rotor spinning, lights blinking against a black sky whilst it was prepared for departure to Newquay. There were group photos in front of the helicopter, staff embracing one other and camera flashes from the crowd of well wishers at the terminal. The was a palpable need to acknowledge the end of the helicopter's 50 year reign and its faithful service to islanders. Then, after what seemed like eternity, a change of engine tone, more fury and a delicate lift off and manoeuvre accompanied by frantic waving from the crowd. The S61 disappeared out into the darkness of Mounts Bay - gone. Nobody said that much, one guessed everybody struggled with their own particular emotions because emotional it was. As we stumbled out of the terminal to find parked cars in the gloom there was a brief roar overhead as the helicopter performed an impromptu fly past and disappeared inland – this time gone for good. (Dick Cliffe ex-RAF)