‘Bravo November’, or ZA718, was being transported aboard the container ship Atlantic Conveyor along with three other Chinooks. On 25 May 1982 the aircraft was about to begin assisting the British landings on the Falkland Islands when an Argentine Navy assault Super Étendard destroyed the Atlantic Conveyor with an Exocet sea-skimming missile.
The three other Chinooks aboard were all lost but, by pure luck, 'Bravo November' was airborne on an engineering test flight at the time. Having survived the destruction of the ship, 'Bravo November' managed to make it to safety on the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.
'Bravo November' ran into trouble again a few days later during a night mission transporting guns to troops. The pilot, Sqn Ldr Dick Langworthy, unable to see clearly through a thick snow shower, allowed 'Bravo November' to descend but hit the sea at around 100 knots (175 km/h), throwing up spray and flooding the engine intakes.
However, Dick and co-pilot Flt Lt Andy Lawless (now Wing Commander Andy Lawless) managed to get the helicopter back in the air. With the radio damaged and unable to navigate, they managed to return to Port San Carlos, and after a quick inspection revealed the impact had caused little more than dents to the fuselage and radio systems.
Just over a year later, Sqn Ldr Dick Langworthy returned to the Falklands but unfortunately suffered a fatal heart attack.
So his widow, Mrs Jean Langworthy, and their two sons, represented him at the Odiham reunion anniversary event. It was an emotional day for the crew but one which they thoroughly enjoyed. Speaking after the event, Wing Commander Andy Lawless, who is still serving in the RAF, said:
"It was a fantastic event and a perfect opportunity to meet up with old friends and families to reminisce over old times."
ZA718 'Bravo November' went on to serve in Lebanon, Germany, Northern Ireland, Kurdistan and was also the first British helicopter to land Royal Marines ashore in Iraq. It is still in service today at RAF Odiham. But it was its survival from the Falklands conflict that is perhaps most amazing. Two pilots have been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross at the controls of ZA718, Sqn Ldr Dick Langworthy and Sqn Ldr Steve Carr.
The reunion coincided with Odiham celebrating 25 years of the Chinook being at the base and also with their annual families day. Former Commander in Chief Strike Command, Air Chief Marshal Sir John Day, senior representatives from Boeing, Station Commander Group Captain Sean Reynolds and the surviving crew members from ‘Bravo November’ joined together to celebrate this significant milestone.