In Focus

In praise of… the Chinook

Australian Aviation opens its archive to the most photogenic, recognisable and resilient aircraft we have.

Approach a random person on the street and ask them their thoughts on the F-35 Lightning II and, in truth, they’ll likely look at you blankly. Mention a Boeing 747 and, if you’re lucky, a few more polite sorts might mutter something about a double-decker that takes you on a big holiday. But go up to anyone – anyone! – and mention a Chinook, and you can guarantee they will know exactly what you’re talking about, with a vivid image of the banana-shaped twin rotor perfectly formed in their minds. I’m going to say it right now: the Chinook is the most recognisable and bravest thing man has ever sent to the skies. It’s the GOAT.

No, don’t stop me now, I’m in full flow. To avgeeks, the CH-47 is a heavy lift helicopter but to everyone else a heavy lift helicopter is a Chinook. It is to rotary what Dyson is to vacuum cleaners and iPads are to tablets and Google is to internet search. It simply transcends the rotary business altogether. Why? Because since its first flight almost 60 years ago, it has been Army’s ultimate team player, with missions as varied as carrying wartime Boston bombers from the jungles in Papua New Guinea to lifting Wessex helicopters for the RAN alongside hurling wounded soldiers out of warzones. At one point, it even transported an enormous statue of Australian aviation pioneer Lawrence Hargrave onto Mt Keira at Wollongong.

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