The Chinook is a troop and load carrying heavy-lift support helicopter that is named after the Native American Chinook people. It has a wide loading ramp at the rear of the fuselage and three external ventral cargo hooks. It is capable of lifting a load that exceeds its own weight.
The original Boeing CH-47 Chinook prototype flew for the first time in September 1961. The RAF ordered 30 CH-47Cs Chinooks in 1978, primarily to replace the Westland Wessex. They entered service two years later and were designated as Chinook HC Mk1 (Helicopter Cargo, Mark 1).
The Chinook is an extremely capable and highly versatile support helicopter that can be operated from land bases or seaborne vessels into a range of diverse environments, from the Arctic to the desert or jungle. The aircraft may be heavily armed and is fitted with a suite of self-defence equipment allowing it to operate in hostile environments.
Chinooks are primarily used for transporting troops, resupply and battlefield casualty evacuation. The crews are trained to accomplish these tasks under threat from both ground and air based enemies. A Chinook crew usually consists of two pilots and two crewmen, supplemented by specialists dependent upon mission requirements.
Strong and fast
The RAF operates the biggest fleet of Chinooks outside the US. Internally, the aircraft can carry up to 55 fully equipped troops or two Landrovers. Externally, the aircraft can lift huge loads underslung on three hooks fixed on the outside of the airframe, up to a maximum all-up load of 10 tonnes.
The Chinook is also a very fast helicopter capable of a top speed of 160kts (185mph). When flying as a pair with an Apache attack helicopter on operations, the Chinook would often have to slow down to enable the Apache to keep pace! The Chinook is likely to stay in RAF service to 2040.
Fully operational Squadron
The RAF Chinook Display Team are based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire. In addition to display duties, the crew are also part of a fully operational Squadron where they combine their daily training demands with practising and delivering their display sequence.
If you want to see the Chinook in action come along to the Festival of Flight on Saturday 18th August (due to operational commitments the Chinook will not be with us on Sunday 19th August).