A retired Sea King helicopter has returned to active service, this time as luxury overnight accommodation – making it one of Scotland’s most unusual places to stay.
Stirling farmer Martyn Steedman and his wife Louise snapped up the 1980s military relic in an online MOD auction for £7,000 back in March 2016 and have converted the 17m long helicopter into ‘glamping’ accommodation.
The aircraft’s exterior has been lovingly restored to its former glory, with the new owners retaining and restoring many of the Sea King’s original features.
Martyn said: “We’ve completely repainted her but kept all her signage and original lighting. We sourced some original rotor blades and replaced her tail rotors with some we discovered on Ebay, as we wanted her to still look like a helicopter from the outside. When you see her lit up at night, it looks as if she is ready for take off!”
Finding a match for the paint work proved difficult until they visited a local paint shop. Louise explained: “We were having some trouble finding the right shade of grey. We thought we might have to approach the MOD for some supplies until we discovered an inexpensive alternative, farm oxide paint. It’s the same colour and normally used for farm buildings or fencing. We only needed two tins and it has anti-corrosive properties to keep her looking good for longer!”
Meanwhile, the spacious interior of the helicopter has been transformed into a remarkable holiday home that sleeps a family of six with a double and a triple bed as well as single bed in the tail. The curved walls have been insulated, wood panelled and painted which gives the inside the look of an upturned hull of a boat. New doubled glazed patio doors have also been added to the side of the helicopter which lead out onto a decked area. The original sliding door has been retained to give the occupants privacy at night.
Many of the Sea King’s original features have been retained inside, except for the sonar station which was removed and donated to The Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare, to make way for a shower room and mini-kitchen.
Louise said: “When we removed the sonar it left the perfect hole for us to plumb in the services. Now you can sit on the loo where the sonar operator once sat!”
The real focal point of the interior is the cockpit where you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views over the Carse of Stirling. The flight deck has been refitted with swivel seats and a table made from an old fuel tank cover and painted with an RAF roundel.
Martyn said: “We’ve retained the original dashboard, roof panel switches and foot pedals, so customers can experience the helicopter as she once was and pretend they are flying her on a mission.”
Watch the Sea King on BBC’s Reporting Scotland and book your own stay at www.helicopterglamping.com