James Bond battles AgustaWestland Merlin helicopter in new Skyfall movie
When James Bond fans sit down to watch 007’s latest action-packed blockbuster they will see the suave spy battle with a piece of Somerset engineering.
An AgustaWestland Merlin helicopter features in an explosive scene as it hunts Bond at a Scottish country lodge during the agent’s 23rd film, Skyfall, which premieres next month.
The demonstration aircraft was supplied by the Yeovil manufacturer for the $150 million production, part of which was filmed in Surrey earlier this year.
The film sees Daniel Craig’s third performance as Bond as he comes up against Javier Bardem as the villain Raoul Silva and travels to the home of his ancestors, Skyfall Lodge.
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Yeovil Mayor Clive Davis said the helicopter’s appearance was a great advertisement for the town.
He said: “It is terrific news that Yeovil’s flagship employer will be showcased in a blockbuster on the big screen.
“We are a helicopter town so it fills me with great pride that a part of Yeovil and Somerset will have a big role in such a high profile film.
“It is a great advert for Yeovil and AgustaWestland.”
Photographer Lucy Browne came across construction work and filming on Hankley Common near Farnham over several weeks in March.
In her Foraging Photographer blog she described finding gravestones bearing the names of Bond's ancestors on the set which included a mock up of the Skyfall lodge.
She was also able to film the Merlin helicopter flying over the common.
She wrote: “There was a Merlin helicopter sitting impressively on site. Eventually it started up and rose into the air, much to the excitement of us all watching.
“It just hovered there for a few minutes, before dropping gracefully back to earth.
“Thankfully it did a bit more than that the next time, with lots of low flying round the lodge set, at times in tandem with the very sleek and impressive camera helicopter.
“The first time the Merlin went up, there were lots of blokes underneath with guns, so I’m guessing that the actual scene will involve something similar to this.”
Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench, who plays spy chief “M”, were present during the shoot.
The forthcoming film will be the second time this year that the Anglo-Italian defence firm is seen deployed on Her Majesty’s secret service.
An AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter featured in the Happy and Glorious segment of Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony which depicted the Queen and Daniel Craig, as James Bond, being transported from Buckingham Palace to the stadium by air.
The video clip was played out to an estimated audience of one billion people and showed the aircraft pass London landmarks.
The helicopter then hovered above the Olympic stadium where stuntman Gary Connery and former Gurkha officer Mark Sutton parachuted from the aircraft in the guise of Her Majesty and secret agent 007.
Skyfall hits cinema screens in the UK on Friday October 26.