Before ‘Juliet’ flew thousands of kilometers saving lives in New Zealand, she visited 41 countries on a 73,000 km circumnavigation of the world.
The helicopter was originally owned by the King of Jordan and after changing hands a few times, it was bought by Dick Smith, the founder of Dick Smith Electronics.
Between 1994 and 95, Smith and his wife used the helicopter to complete the first east to west circumnavigation of the world. Throughout most of the journey, the Smiths flew at an altitude of 500 feet to ensure they were able to get clear photographs, which are documented in the book ‘Above the World’.
In the book, Smith wrote: “Flying [in it] was rather like sitting in the back of a station-wagon. When we flew low, I slid the windows down and enjoyed the breeze as I took in the view. It was like being in a motor vehicle a little above the road. A truly magnificent way to see the world.”
The S-76 was known for its safety, reliability, smooth flying and long-range capability, which made it ideal for the increasing demand for emergency services in the Northland region with its tricky terrain and vast distances.
Pete Turnbull, former Northland Rescue Chopper CEO, said: “Juliet would always be the helicopter that would pop up when you had to do the longest, toughest jobs off-shore. She always got you through and you couldn’t help but give her a pat on the nose after you landed. The Apollo space craft, 747 aircraft, Mustangs and Mack trucks were designed and developed during this period and that helicopter is the epitome of the sound engineering principles and quality machinery the US was producing back then.”
Juliet is currently in a hangar at Whangarei Airport while the next stages for her life are planned. Northland Rescue Helicopter’s two new Sikorsky C++ aircraft, which are 10 years old, have replaced Juliet and another recently decommissioned chopper known as Mike.