This helicopter brings General Gogol to the meeting at the Meteora Monastery, hoping that soon he will be owner of the super coding device. Of course Bond uses "standard operational procedures" to destroy the device, so the general disappointed, but relaxed by Bond's typical sense of humor, climbs back to the chopper and flies away.
Mi-2 - helicopter designed by famous Russian designer Mikhail Mil, was produced only in Poland. Prototype flew in 1961, serial production started in 1965. Machine had so big potential for adaptations, that company created dedicated Research & Development Department for it, which resulted around 25 military and civilian versions. Around 7200 units were produced till 1985, when fully Polish construction PZL W-3 Sokol (Falcon) took its place on the production lines.
Our hero - Mi-2, serial No. 525523038, registered SP-SAP was build 18.03.1978 as a basic agrotechnical version with double steering. Entered service 02.04.1978 in the Agro technical flights section of the Swidnik factory. The company sent this fresh unit to demonstrate its capabilities during Hanover Fairs in April 1978.
After a short period in the OBR (Swidnik R&D Division) chopper was transferred to the PZL Swidnik daughter company ZEUS (Helicopter Exploitation and Services) in June 1980. Shortly after, the company was contacted to loan one Mi-2 for the "For Your Eyes Only". They agreed - so SP-SAP with 2 crew members - Czeslaw Dyzma as pilot and Stanislaw Porebski as mechanic - flew via Thessaloniki, Kerkira to Kalambaka base. Movie shooting was performed between 16 -25 October 1980. Chopper returned to Poland 29.10.1980 and went back to its agrotechnical duties.
Helicopter served till 1995. The last mission was fields spraying in Mansura, Egypt. After mission end all the units engaged were loaded into containers and transferred to Poland. SP-SAP was on the end of the current resource, damages from the farmers' chemistry were also significant. Regarding the fact that "Heliseco" company (formerly known as ZEUS) was changing the fleet to W-3 Sokol, decision was taken that this machine will not be renewed. So it stayed on the ground...for the next 5 years.
In Autumn 2000 the Central School of National Fireman Service, looking for the items to organize new dedicated fire battle station, asked "Heliseco" for some help. The company agreed and assigned some grounded machines for the new tasks. Probably end of September 2000, SP-SAP with its 2 brothers was transferred to Czestochowa. "Heliseco" filled up the request for removal of this Mi-2 SP-SAP from the official National Polish Aircraft Register.
The chopper body stays at the Academy till today, serving as mock-up for aircraft accident simulation. Hardly but registration marks can still be seen on the helicopter tail.
'For Your Eyes Only' trivia related to the chopper:
a) The question of repainting the machine were raised instantly on the first briefing - Still in Poland the crew received signals that exposing original marking is claimed ...Team gave up the idea to paint red stars on the hull. The mechanic finally converted all S letters to the digit 8. resulting 8P-8AP as registration... The original interesting painting of the hull was preserved, and the manufacturer's logo was not hidden either, thus giving the Polish Bond fans lot to be proud of. See the picture to the left.
b) Pilot uniform seen in the movie is the original duty uniform of the agropilots owned by the pilot, Czeslaw Dyzma.
c) Movie crew got the clearance to shot inside the Holy Trinity monastery, however chopper landing there was denied by monks. In consequence on the hill in the neighborhood crew constructed a mockup of the monastery walls and concrete landing area for the chopper. Size of landing area was little bit bigger than the Mi-2 main hull size... The zone exists till today and is an attraction for the tourists visiting Meteora.
Special Thanks to Mr. Marcin Królik and the Archive Team from the LPU Heliseco - for the warm reception and all these details (Including views of the flight book and official documents) from which I was able to complete the helicopter history.
Aeroplan - polish Aviation magazine article