Royal Navy helicopter lost for 60 years found in Northern Ireland

Rare Westland Dragonfly helicopter went down on November 25, 1958, during a recovery exercise

Wreckage from the Westland Dragonfly helicopter at Lough Foyle, Northern Ireland, on Thursday. PA
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A rare type of Royal Navy helicopter that crashed off the coast of Northern Ireland 60 years ago has been found.

The Westland Dragonfly went down in Lough Foyle during a recovery exercise on November 25, 1958.

The Dragonfly was used as an air-sea search and rescue helicopter, based at the Royal Naval Air Station Eglinton, now the City of Derry Airport.

The wreckage of the craft has now been identified as part of a coastal survey.

The Topographic Lidar and Orthophotography survey provides high-resolution aerial photographs, near-infrared imagery and 3D laser scans of the ground surface.

It reveals what the coastline looks like as well as identifying scores of historic wrecks, castles and quays.

While most were already recorded on the Historic Environment Record of Northern Ireland, more than 150 new heritage sites were discovered.

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Remnants of the Dragonfly were initially seen in the aerial photos of Lough Foyle before an inspection at the site revealed the wreck of a very early form of helicopter lying on its right side on the gravelly bank.

Although heavily corroded, the frame of the helicopter and its three rotor blades were mostly intact, with remnants of the Royal Navy stencilling still discernible down the tail boom.

It was identified as a 1955 Westland Dragonfly helicopter.

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The exact position of the wreck is not being released as the crash site is on dangerous soft sediment and there is a significant amount of possibly live Second World War and post-war ordnance at the site.

Further information on the find will be available on a new coastal Information website, the Northern Ireland Coastal Observatory, which will be launched by the Department of Agriculture, environment and rural affairs in the near future.

Updated: November 04, 2022, 3:16 AM
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