Pilot Visits Chopper-Turned-Holiday-Home

A Royal Navy helicopter pilot has paid a flying visit to his former aircraft to see its transformation into an unusual holiday home.

Lieutenant Commander Andy "Tank'' Murray and his crew stopped off to visit the Sea King near Stirling as they flew north to take part in a training exercise.

Stirling farmer Martyn Steedman and his wife Louise bought the Sea King for £7,000 in an online Ministry of Defence (MoD) auction last March and have spent nearly £40,000 from start to finish converting it into glamping accommodation.

The 17m-long Mark 6 Sea King aircraft was retired from active service in 1994 but was then used in naval training until 2002.

The interior of the helicopter has been transformed into a holiday home that sleeps a family of six with a double and a triple bed as well as a single bed in the tail.

Lieutenant Commander Murray spent four years on and off flying the aircraft and was impressed by its transformation.

He said: "I think it's beautiful.

"I flew 103 hours in it and I can guarantee that the seats that are in it now are a lot more comfortable than the seats that were in it when I was flying it around.

"I think what they've done is a wonderful thing.

"They're iconic aircraft, they shouldn't all go for scrap, they should be kept going, at least some of them, for some other purpose so that people can still see them round and about.

"When they said they were going to scrap them and you could buy them, me and the wife talked about buying one and turning it into a garden shed, but we couldn't have done it as well as that.

"I think they've done a really good job, it's got a really nice finish to it. Hopefully I'll be able to come and stay in it one day.''

Lieutenant Commander Murray, who is based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, has flown 8,500 hours, 8,000 of them in a Sea King, during his 30-and-a-half year career in the Royal Navy.

He and his crew landed next to the holiday home in their Mark 7 Sea King while another circled overhead to watch before carrying on north.

Mr and Mrs Steedman were inspired to buy the helicopter after seeing its final flypast over Stirling last year, which marked the end of active service for the fleet.

It was brought to its new home at Mains Farm Wigwams in Thornhill, near Stirling, last April and has since been fully restored, with its new owners retaining many of the aircraft's original features.

The transformation featured in Channel 4's George Clarke's Amazing Spaces last year.

It has proved a popular addition to the Wigwams business and is booked out for the rest of the season.

Mrs Steedman said they were delighted to welcome the Royal Navy, who got in touch after seeing the transformation on the Channel 4 show.

She said: "I think they were quite surprised by how we managed to get so much in there, the bathroom, the kitchen and all the different beds, and I think they just appreciate that we've taken care of her and turned her into something really nice, and she has not been scrapped, she's just had a repurposing.''

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