Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

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CharlieOneSix
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Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#1 Post by CharlieOneSix » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:48 am

30 years ago tonight - 6th July 1988 - my co-pilot and I were based with a Bell 214ST helicopter on the Forties Bravo oil platform, 110 miles off Aberdeen. We were doing shuttling work – at 0600 and 1800 flying between rigs/platforms taking workers to/from their 12 hour shifts.

We were just about to turn in for the night when we were called to the Offshore Installation Manager’s office. He said there was a platform on fire and asked if we would go and see if we could help. That was the night of the Piper Alpha disaster when 167 men lost their lives - 61 survived. It was a long night of sounds, sights and smells that I shall never forget.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#2 Post by Boac » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:55 am

In deed, Charlie - a fellow DanAir co-pilot, Martyn Ashton, lost his son (on a 'work experience' visit) there. Martyn now, too, departed.

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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#3 Post by Cacophonix » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:57 pm

CharlieOneSix wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:48 am
30 years ago tonight - 6th July 1988 - my co-pilot and I were based with a Bell 214ST helicopter on the Forties Bravo oil platform, 110 miles off Aberdeen. We were doing shuttling work – at 0600 and 1800 flying between rigs/platforms taking workers to/from their 12 hour shifts.

We were just about to turn in for the night when we were called to the Offshore Installation Manager’s office. He said there was a platform on fire and asked if we would go and see if we could help. That was the night of the Piper Alpha disaster when 167 men lost their lives - 61 survived. It was a long night of sounds, sights and smells that I shall never forget.
The pilots and crews in the air as well those on the ships did their bit and were (and still are) brave people.

Kudos to you and all those that went out in the face of such a disaster to save the folk on the rig.

God rest the dead!

Thank you for reminding us C16.

Caco
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#4 Post by CharlieOneSix » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:36 pm

Caco - we were unable to save anyone directly as we had neither winch nor crewman as we were only equipped for the commercial task in the Forties Field. We had hoped to perhaps land on the Piper Alpha's helideck but it had already disappeared in one of the explosions by the time we got there. All we were able to do was take three stretcher cases with the worst burns, plus 4 walking wounded with burns and a couple of medics, from the Tharos fire fighting vessel straight to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

I will never understand why the radio operator on the Tharos did not receive formal recognition. His cool professionalism during those initial hours was remarkable and contributed greatly to the rescue effort.

Re the son of Boac's colleague: Mark David Ashton, age 19, trainee technician.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#5 Post by Cacophonix » Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:14 pm

CharlieOneSix wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:36 pm
Caco - we were unable to save anyone directly as we had neither winch nor crewman as we were only equipped for the commercial task in the Forties Field. We had hoped to perhaps land on the Piper Alpha's helideck but it had already disappeared in one of the explosions by the time we got there. All we were able to do was take three stretcher cases with the worst burns, plus 4 walking wounded with burns and a couple of medics, from the Tharos fire fighting vessel straight to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

I will never understand why the radio operator on the Tharos did not receive formal recognition. His cool professionalism during those initial hours was remarkable and contributed greatly to the rescue effort.

Re the son of Boac's colleague: Mark David Ashton, age 19, trainee technician.

You chap's can take great credit for responding and giving succour to the injured and almost certainly saving lives. There can be no greater thing a person or a group of people can do.

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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#6 Post by FD2 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:35 pm

I had moved down south before the Piper tragedy. It was an old platform built to an old design and with a 'get the oil out quick ' ethos. Much of the early development was done on the same lines as the Gulf of Mexico and there was a bit of a relaxed attitude to safety....167 men gone. Luckily it improved later and offshore accidents decreased but it was always to be a risky occupation. Watching the news reports was almost unbelievable - a large platform I had landed on so often just disappearing in the huge explosions of gas - I found it hard to believe that anyone at all had survived. Thanks for reminding us C16 - it hardly seems like 30 years does it? I do remember shots of a 214 landing survivors in Aberdeen but can't remember if it was Dyce or ARI.

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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#7 Post by CharlieOneSix » Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:58 pm

FD2 - we went straight to ARI. I think, but not sure after all this time, we were the first helicopter to arrive there at about 0330. I've just watched a repeat of the 25th anniversary documentary on BBC2 Scotland with survivors recalling their escapes with great emotion.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#8 Post by fareastdriver » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:40 pm

I went out there with a S76 next morning. We had the relief IOM on board and we had to fly very close around the structure to photograph and assess the damage.

A couple of days later I took the Time Magazine people out and that is when the stark photograph of the Piper Alfa was taken.

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