AW101 Merlin vs Porta-Potties: Who Wins?

What happens when an AugustaWestland AW101 helicopter inadvertently squares off against a row of port-potties? Simply put, and pardon the vernacular… Shit hits the fan (hopefully not literally, in this case).

Just posted a few days ago, this video, shared to YouTube, quickly made its rounds of the internet, demonstrating exactly what happens when the aforementioned scenario actually pans out in real life.

In it, a pair of AW101 Merlin HM.1s slingloading L118 105mm howitzers (more commonly know in the British military as a “light gun”) make a low pass in Dartmoor, apparently dropping off the artillery pieces for the annual Ten Tors challenge. The light guns were to be used for the opening of the challenge with the firing of ceremonial blanks to kick off the 2-day race. While en route to the dropoff point, the downwash from the rotors of the second helo in the flight violently disrupted a neat row of porta-potties, the infamous dull-colored outhouses/toilets present at outdoor events and parks all across the world.

The downwash of a helicopter’s rotors tends to be very powerful- just about enough to overcome the 200lb weight of an average porta-potty. Typically, these outhouses don’t have plumbing nor do they remove the human wastes from the open tank after usage, so as soon as those sheds went flying, their smelly contents did too. Let’s just hope nobody was inside when this all went down.

The Merlin HM.1 can generally slingload a maximum of 12,170 lbs, or 6.1 tonnes; a light gun weighs about a quarter of that, at 4000 lbs. The Ten Tors challenge is organized annually by the Royal Army, with the assistance of the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, as well as the Dartmoor Rescue Group. Teams of teenagers, aged 14-19, hike 55 miles over the course of two days in a display of teamwork and athleticism. The challenge has taken place every year since 1960.

About Ian D'Costa (240 Articles)
Ian is the editor-in-chief of the Tactical Air Network. His work has been republished and quoted in a number of publications, including The Toronto Star, Airsoc, Business Insider and The Aviationist. You can reach him at

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