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Case Studies > Helicopter Glamping

Thornhill, Stirling

Case Study Helicopter Glamping Thornhill, Stirling
Case Study Helicopter Glamping Helicopter Glamping is one of Scotland's most unusual places to stay. The retired Royal Navy Sea King was purchased at a Ministry of Defence auction by farmer Martyn Steedman and his wife Louise in 2016 and converted into a one-of-a-kind holiday home.

Situated in the tranquil Stirlingshire village of Thornhill, where the Steedman family have farmed for nearly 100 years, the helicopter offers an unparalleled experience for tourists with a quirky bed in the tail and a spectacular cockpit seating area with panoramic views. Since being launched in March 2017 the iconic 17m Sea King has become a visitor attraction in its own right, attracting visitors to rural Scotland from as far afield as Australia.

Martyn and Louise are no strangers to farm diversification. They set up one of Scotland's first wigwam holiday parks in 2002, Mains Farm Wigwams, which has 30 wigwams. With increasing competition within the rural tourism sector, the couple spotted a gap in the market for quirky accommodation that would put them on the map internationally. The idea for the helicopter conversion came to them during the Sea Kings' final fly past over Stirling in January 2016, which marked the end of active service for the entire fleet. They couldn't bear to see these much-loved helicopters go on the scrap heap and decided to give one a new lease of life in the country.

Over six months, the helicopter was transformed into ‘glamping' accommodation for a family of five. Martyn and Louise preserved and restored all the Sea King's original lighting, so that when it is lit up a night it looks as if it is ready to take off. Inside, they retained many of the helicopter's original features but removed the sonar station, which was donated to the Helicopter Museum, to make way for a shower room and mini-kitchen. The real focal point of the interior, however, is the cockpit where holidaymakers can enjoy spectacular views over the Carse of Stirling. The original dashboard, roof panel switches and foot pedals were kept, so that guests can experience the helicopter as it once was and pretend they are flying it on a mission.

The ambitious conversion project involved the entire Steedman family, including the couple's two young sons. Harry and Josh helped return the helicopter to her former glory, repainting her original signage and designing a kid's bed in the tail which has its own flashing disco lights – an unforgettable experience for child guests. The initiative also relied heavily on the skills of local tradesman who helped transform the helicopter's interior. In total over £40,000 was spend on the transformation, providing a real boost to the local economy. The stunning transformation won the seal of approval of the Royal Navy, who flew two Sea Kings into Thornhill in 2017 to pay their old helicopter a visit.

The helicopter has captured the imagination of journalists and bloggers across the world as well closer to home, featuring in almost every daily newspaper as well as on BBC News and in The Telegraph Travel section. To keep up with customer demand Louise and Martyn have recently employed a site manager to help them turn their campsite into a year-round destination. The surge in visitor numbers has also had a positive effect for local restaurants, shops and attractions, as holidaymakers flock to the area to stay at their now famous site. For further information see:
Scottish Land & Estates
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