This helicopter was one of 33 Bellairus versions (Bell 47H) ever built and the only one in Europe. It was constructed in 1957 and purchased by the Belgian company Sabena Airlines. The aircraft was employed in supply operations during the Belgian Government's Antarctic Expedition 1957-1959. The aircraft was painted in a shining red livery, with a logo designed by Hergé (Georges Prosper Remi), the creator of the "Tintin" comic books.
The helicopter was imported to Sweden by Ostermans Aero AB in October 1962 (registered SE-HBE
in March 1963). It was rapidly nicknamed "Kanonkulan" (the cannonball). The helicopter was was leased to the National Police for evaluations the same year. The police had no flight division of their own at that time, which makes this helicopter to one of the very first machines in service with the police. The Swedish Police Wing
was soon established, and it soon acquired its own Agusta-Bell 47G-2 (SE-HDP
, which is the only "H"/Bellairus version of the Bell 47 that has ever been registered in the country (and Europe). It was sold to Norway in 1970, registered LN-OQG
. The aircraft was soon exported to a private owner in the UK (Feb. 1972). The helicopter (reg G-AZYB) was damaged in an accident following an engine failure near Andover (UK) in April 1984.
Following the accident the wrecked helicopter was purchased by the founder of the International Helicopter Museum. The aircraft was further damaged in a storm in 1990. However, this marked the start of a major restoration process. It took the devoted volunteers of the Helicopter Museum roughly 10 years to restore the Bellairus to its original 1956 Sabena look. The helicopter was so beautifully restored that the team was awarded the Vintage Aircraft Club Desmond Penrose Trophy in 2001 (Vintage Aeroplane of the Year).
The beautiful helicopter is displayed at the first-class International Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare (UK), wearing its Belgian Antartic Expedition Scheme (including the Tintin logo).