Dunsfold Park was sworn to secrecy last week as an Augusta Westland (AW101) Merlin helicopter flew in for a confidential and rather special paint job. Sprayed red, white and blue the Merlin was painted ahead of its starring role in the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.
Taking just a weekend to complete, the helicopter was hidden away in the Top Gear studio as a team of painters working for Flying Colours, sprayed the iconic military machine with water soluble paint.
At the opening ceremony on Friday 27th July the patriotic colour scheme was first shown as the Queen and Bond dropped in to the stadium by parachute from an Augusta Westland (AW139) helicopter. The Merlin then proudly displayed its own version of the paint scheme as it flew over the stadium which triggered the release of 8 billion pieces of confetti on to Team GB and the 80,000 strong crowd.
A special chute was adapted for the confetti drop and the Helicopter was returned to normal function and its paint washed off when it returned to Dunsfold Park on Saturday 28th July. The Merlin’s next on screen appearance will be in James Bond’s ‘Skyfall’.
Jim McAllister, Chief Executive, Dunsfold Park Ltd comments: "We were thrilled to be able to play a part in the opening ceremony for the Olympics. It was a real treat to get a sneak preview of what was planned and even better to see it unfold and look so spectacular on the night."
Larry Major, Director of Aeroservice UK, based at Dunsfold Airfield, who co-ordinated the work with Agusta Westland and Dunsfold Park, reported that although the basic outline of the operation was known, the full extent of the stunt had been kept a closely guarded secret. He said, “We were all delighted to see it in full on Friday night and thought it a great success. We were all very proud to have taken part. The project was one of a sequence of Government and specialist Aviation activities carried out at the aerodrome in conjunction with Aeroservice this year."