When Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant Christopher Gordon found himself flying a Chinook helicopter on a rescue mission in Afghanistan with just one operational engine after its twin was disabled by Taliban gunfire, he faced a critical decision.
“Our mission was to rescue guys who were in danger and to get them to safety,” he said. “So I was immediately calculating the performance we could achieve with one good engine. My first reaction was that we would be too heavy by a substantial margin.
“But I felt that we just had to have a go, so we got the troops onboard, one of whom suffered a gunshot wound to the leg running across to us. At that point we were entering the unknown really.”
However, using all his experience and all the additional power provided by a recent upgrade to the Chinook’s Honeywell T55 turboshaft engines, Flight Lieutenant Gordon was able to get airborne and away from danger.
“I don’t think we would have pulled it off had we not been flying on our new T55 714 version engine,” he said. “It has more power and torque, I could carry more and I was able to get to up to speed quicker. It was a real test to have to push the engine that hard but it came through with flying colors.”
Flight Lieutenant Gordon was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his “considerable courage” in the rescue mission.