QinetiQ's apprentices transform a Gazelle helicopter into a giant dragonfly sculpture

31 May 2007

A giant dragonfly sculpture, built from the body and tail of an old Gazelle helicopter by apprentices from QinetiQ’s Engineering Training Centre at MOD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, was today positioned on top of a six metre high pole at the nearby Solstice Park 160 acre business park and leisure centre development. Adjacent to the busy A303 road, the sculpture is set to become a distinctive landmark for many years to come.

The dragonfly creation, inspired by local artist Charlotte Moreton, is part of this year’s Salisbury International Arts Festival and Natural England’s Living River project to install water inspired sculptures within local communities.

Commenting on the project, Neil Irvine, QinetiQ’s Managing Director for Flight Engineering Services said: “Our twelve third phase apprentices spent 14 weeks putting a lot of effort into building the sculpture. In addition to solving the technical aspects of the build, they have acquired new skills in design, creativity and decision making. I’m particularly proud of Cindy Flower and Nathan Read, who have evolved as natural leaders and, in addition to working on the dragonfly, have attended off-site progress meetings with representatives from Salisbury International Arts Festival and Solstice Park.”

Technical aspects for the build included design, sourcing material, stripping out equipment from the helicopter, re-attaching the tail at a reversed angle, adding giant Mesh eyes and attaching wings before finally spraying the whole with pearlescent paint.

The apprentices are now in the final weeks of their third year at the Engineering Training Centre and will shortly leave to gain experience working on a variety of aircraft through monthly work placements at Boscombe Down. These will continue until September 2008 when they will have successfully completed their training.

The Engineering Training Centre has been in operation at Boscombe Down since 1969 and trains around 40 apprentices each year.

QinetiQ People Who Know How
QinetiQ's apprentices transform a Gazelle helicopter into a giant dragonfly sculpture