Jane Egginton is the daughter of former Westland Chief Test Pilot Trevor Egginton and recalls the day in August 1986 when her father set a new World Helicopter Speed Record flying G-Lynx over a 2 mile measured course on the Somerset Levels at 249.1 mph - a record that 30 yrs on has never been beaten
He was quite cagey about it. I mean he told us that it was going to happen but he said we mustn’t say anything because they wanted to keep it a bit hush, hush. I don’t know why but they did. So we were sworn to silence. We weren’t supposed to say anything about it and I was here when they did it because I’d like to have gone but we weren’t allowed so I was with Mum and my recollection is it being a Monday but I may be wrong about that. I was going to look it up and see if it actually was a Monday, but I remember being with Mum and we sat here, she doesn’t remember it, but we sat waiting for the phone call. We knew they were going to do two runs so we waited and waited and waited and finally, some time after ten o’clock we got a phone call to say that they’d done it and yes, great relief all round because I think we were all just a little bit worried, you know, pushing the helicopter to its limits like that, that something horrible might go wrong and so on, so it was a relief.
They quite enjoyed all the fuss really because, I mean, they met Prince Andrew and they went to a slap-up dinner. He won the Britannia trophy for services to aviation, which followed on from the world speed record and he was presented with that by Prince Andrew, I think.
You’ve got a dad who holds a world speed record. How do you feel about that?
Oh, it’s great, especially as it’s been thirty years. I don’t think any of us expected it to last that long. We all thought that sooner or later the Americans would have a go at it or the Russians would have another go at it or something like that so I think Dad was surprised but I remember when it came to the twentieth anniversary I remember him saying something along the lines that he was quite surprised it hadn’t been broken and here we are ten years later and it still hasn’t. I’m no physicist and I don’t understand these things but he did tell me that theoretically, helicopters shouldn’t be able to fly more than two hundred miles an hour but he was dead gutted about not quite managing two hundred and fifty miles an hour. So he was really annoyed about that, what is it, point eight of a mile an hour or something like that that they didn’t quite manage.
But no, I think it’s fantastic that it still stands.