Without spending hours leafing through my log books, it would be impossible to specify the year, but it was, I think, 1969/70.
In 45 Cdo Air Troop, I was tasked with the rest of the lads to support the unit on exercise on Salisbury Plain. The high spot of the entire exercise period was for one of the rifle companies to demonstrate an Eagle Flight attack in Wessii from 845, with me circling overhead, carrying the Company Commander, supposedly directing operations.
This demonstration took place in front of a hastily erected scaffold grandstand, several rows of seats high, on top of Imber Clump, and this erection contained many high ranking officers from all over the world, festooned with medals, ribbons, and all sorts of other military bric a brac.
During practices in the preceding days the accent had been on speed, and this included the OC's departure from my Sioux, when I landed following the disembarkment of his troops from the Wessii.
On the 'day of the race' two things differed from the practices, (a) prior to our 'act' a tank regiment had done a demo following recent rain, which left the ground in front of the grandstand like an eighteen inch deep sloppy quagmire, and (b), my aircraft was fitted with a Stokes' litter.
Clockwork would be the word to describe the way everything went below, while I circled above about five hundred feet up, and then whilst being unnecessarily urged on by my passenger, I 'dropped the pole' and plummeted down to land in the pre-ordained spot, with much flair and insouciance.
It was at this stage that things started to go wrong. The Major on board, his name omitted to protect his dignity, unstrapped during the descent, and leapt out as soon as the skids touched the ground. (It had been previously rehearsed that as soon as he gave me the thumbs up, I would pull pitch, rocket skyward, and leave him to rally his troops for the valiant notional attack about to take place).
Oh dear, As soon as he was outside the aircraft, he started to turn toward me, and perhaps slightly anticipating him, I did my part, and oinked the lever skyward. Naturally, I rocketed vertically upward, and at about ten feet, as I was about to transition forward, I noticed that the Major was still with me, his arms windmilling wildly as he frantically tried to balance on the skids.
(The subsequent investigation proved that due to the different equipment carried on the aircraft, on 'the day', he had dropped his SMG into the Stokes Litter, and was turning in my direction, NOT to give me the thumbs up, but to retrieve his weapon)!
Sadly I was unaware of any of this, and all I knew was that I still had this bloke skylarking about on my skid. A quick jiggle of the collective was enough to dislodge the bugger, and with a yell that was audible inside the aircraft, he windmilled forward, to land face down in eighteen inches of liquid mud, ten feet below, in front of more top brass than I ever saw in one place, before or after.
Even as I transitioned away, I thought it had gone well, considering, because I noticed that the faces of the brass in the stand had changed from alarm to amusement, and correctly assumed that my passenger had landed safely. However, tragically, I had perhaps over-estimated my ex-passenger's ability to adjust to a new situation, and accept it philosophically. Because I was, perforce, obliged to spend some considerable weeks afterward, in exile up at Roborough Airport where we were based, and far away from the rest of 40 Commando, in order to avoid any unpleasantness.