HMS DAEDALUS
HERITAGE:
Post War, 1970-80s

 
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The De Havilland Chipmunk "Chippie" was stationed at Lee on Solent in the 1970s-1980s

 
Daedalus: 1970s-1980s 

In 1970, the Air Mechanical Engineering School moved to Daedalus from HMS Condor, Arbroath. Thus the establishment played a major part in the technical support, development and training of the Fleet Air Arm and its engineering personnel.

Gradually the Air Station lost its status as commitments were transferred to RNAS Yeovilton. However, the Air Station continued to play an aviation role with its brightly coloured Chipmunk T.10 trainer aircraft buzzing over the airfield, the Solent and Lee-on-Solent, throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. Daedalus's  resident 781 squadron was still being used for VIP and SAR work, with its Wessex HU.5s only finally being disbanded on 31 March 1981 after 41 years residing at Lee-on-Solent.

It was also home of the famous HMS Daedalus Mast Manning Team from 1988-95.

After a lapse of 50 years, Lee-on-Solent was to again see a World Speed Record holder.  This was the land speed record contender, Thrust SSC. On 4 July 4 1980, the engine was fired up for the first time in years at RAF Coningsby prior to its first ever run at RAF Leconsfield later that month. The track proved difficult and bumpy, but soon they moved to HMS Daedalus for a first public demonstration at an airshow, that saw the car lope to 200mph without difficulty. Clearly, the basics were there for its subsequent World Record (Ref: Thrust SSC Project to set the first Supersonic World Land Speed Record.)

An hectic day occurred early in April 1982, when the resident aircraft shared the airfield with a mass of Harriers, helicopters and assorted RN aircraft which were joining ships or supplying the fleet before and after its departure from Portsmouth to the Falkland Islands.


Wessex HAS 1 helicopters lined up at Lee on Solent, July, 1983

The Fleet Air Arm Search and Rescue role was taken up by Wessex HU.5 of 772 squadron in February 1983 stationed at Lee on Solent until March 1988, when its role was finally handed over to a civilian SAR Flight - the search and rescue facility being operated by Bristows Helicopters on behalf of HM Coastguard.  However, the RAF returned briefly after many decades absence when SAR activities were undertaken by a detachment of 202 RAF squadron Sea King HAR3 being stationed at Lee-on-Solent from April till May 1988.


From 1988, commercial Search and Rescue Helicopters took over the former role played by the
Lee on Solent Fleet Air Arm aircraft.

Lee played a major part in the D-Day celebrations for the 40th and 50th anniversaries in 1984 & 1994.

In June 1994, the establishment played a major part in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of D-Day, when many modern and historic and historic aircraft, including that of Queen Elizabeth, and the personal helicopter of the President of the United States of America used Lee prior to the Spithead review and commemorations in the Solent and off the Normandy Coast. The station hosted a large concert in Dunning Hangar with a band of HM Royal Marines and the well known wartime singer Anne Shelton.

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