The Sikorsky S-61N is a twin-engine medium utility helicopter with a sealed hull for amphibious operations
that can accommodate a basic crew of two and up to 26 passengers. The Sikorsky S-61N is
built by the American manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and based on the military
Sikorsky SH-3A/S61B Sea King series originally developed in the late 1950s for all-weather operations. The Sikorsky S-61B
prototype flew on 11 March 1959 and the type entered service with the U.S. Navy as the SH-3A Sea King in 1962.
The Sikorsky S-61N and its non-amphibious configurated variant Sikorsky S-61L are based on and essentially a commercial equivalent of
the military S-61B incorporating a number of changes, including a longer fuselage. The Sikorsky S-61L was flown for the first time on 6 December
1960 and received its FAA Type Approval on 2 November 1961. The S-61L entered production the same year. The Sikorsky S-61N with sealed hull and
stabilising SH-3's floats flew first on 7 August 1962. The S-61N version is optimized for overwater operations, particularly
oil rig support. The initial production S-61s were fitted with two 1250shp General Electric CT58-110-1 turboshafts. Both the S-61L and S-61N were
subsequently updated to Mk II standard with more powerful CT58-140 engines giving better hot and high performance and
other improvements and detail refinements. Production of the commercial Sikorsky S-61s ended in 1979
with over 1300 built. The ICAO Aircraft Type Designator for the S-61N helicopters is S61.
The 1971-built Sikorsky S-61N s/n 61490 was test flown as N4018S. In 1971, the helicopter was registered ZS-HDK with
Court Helicopters (Pty) Ltd., Cape Town, South Africa, and was the first S-61N on the South African civil aircraft register.
The aircraft was leased over the years to a number of operators until it was sold in 1996.
The first lessor was British Airways Helicopters in 1978. On 21 June 1978, Sikorsky S-61N Mk II c/n 61490 was registered
G-BFPF as chartered by British Airways Helicopters. On 1 July 1981, Sikorsky S-61N Mk II G-BFPF was registered as chartered by
British Caledionian Helicopters and the helicopter was repainted in British Caledionian Helicopters colours. Registration G-BFPF
was cancelled on 13 January 1989 and the aircraft was restored as ZS-HDK with Court Helicopters. In 1990, the Sikorsky was leased
to Hummingbird Island Helicopters and registered 8Q-WIZ at the Maldivs. After the lease the
helicopter was again restored to ZS-HDK with Court Helicopters. In 1996, the aircraft was sold
and registered N61NW with Northwest Helicopters in the USA on 26 August 1996. The next owner,
Hayes Helicopter Services, registered the S-61N Mk II as C-FHHD in Canada on 8 April 1997. Registration
C-FHHD was cancelled on 13 February 2009 and the same day, the Sikorsky was registered N906CH with Construction Helicopters in
Howell, Michigan, USA.
On 4 August 1979, Sikorsky S-61N Mk II G-BFPF was seen at the British Airways Helicopters' base Beccles in basic Court colours with
British Airways titles. British Airways Helicopters operated in that years several helicopters out of Beccles Heliport, also known as Ellough Airfield.
This former WW II bomber airfield, was used as heliport for serving the oil and gas rigs in the southern sector of the North Sea from 1965 to the 1990s.