Independent support site
By Bob Trayling, reproduced by kind permission of the author
You may have heard of or even seen what was loosely called the "mock fuselage". It was in fact an early Bölkow 105 whose airframe hours have expired, and was approximately 10 inches shorter in the cockpit area than the TVAC helicopter. It had been modified to sit on a trailer and all its working parts have been removed except for the main controls, and its tail has been chopped off. The instruments were replaced by flat photo boards and a flashing blue light - not normally part of the Air Ambulance kit - has been added in the cabin. The pilot and paramedic seats are still intact, and the side doors have been removed.
The fuselage was on extended loan from Cornwall Air Ambulance where it used to operate, (see Bond article) and was sprayed yellow from the Cornish red to match TVAC's own helicopter. The Thames Valley Air Ambulance name was added on each side, along with some flashing to make it more visible.
A suitably bandaged dummy occupied one of the two stretchers in the rear cabin, simulating a patient being transported to hospital. He did turn a few heads when seen by passers by, and some of the children turned his! Some other redundant (and non-working) equipment including a saline drip, oxygen bottle with face mask and the defibrillator were left in situ.
The fuselage was used as a focal point at fêtes, carnivals and street collections, with the main aim being to encourage children into the helicopter via ladders attached to the side, to play with the controls and flashing light. It was a teriffic crowd puller and the collecting boxes did well.
Over the winter of 2005-2006 the fuselage was cleaned up and equipped with a new set of steps, handrails and rope barriers to comply with health and safety regulations. Sadly, following the 2007 season a decision was taken to retire the fusealge and it has been returned to Bond Air Services.
Museum of Berkshire Aviation, Woodley
Last updated 5th January, 2009