Portland helicopter fan, 8, has Sea King named after him

image copyrightChris Eckersley
image captionFinley Eckersley and his dad Chris received the news after they toured the site

An autistic eight-year-old boy's dreams have come true after a helicopter was named after him, his family has said.

Finley Eckersley loved watching aircraft take to the skies near the HeliOperations training school, and was invited to tour the site.

Afterwards the Portland company's CEO Steve Gladston agreed to formally name one of the aircraft Finley.

Chris Eckersley, Finley's father, said: "I welled up, I'll be honest... it was such a lovely gesture."

The Sea King helicopter was previously known as XZ920, but will now be flown to Bournemouth for a re-spray.

It will return in two weeks with Finley stencilled on its fuselage.

Mr Eckersley said he originally contacted HeliOperations "to mention how much it means to Finley that these guys are doing what they're doing".

image copyrightChris Eckersley
image captionFinley had a Sea King at the HeliOperations training school named after him

Base manager Mick Sherry subsequently invited Finley to visit the site.

After the trip, Mr Eckersley wrote a message of thanks, and within 10 minutes had a call from Mr Gladston saying they were going to rename a helicopter.

He told the BBC: "I've got to say I was a bit emotional.

"When I got to work the next day I was telling all my work colleagues and they couldn't believe it."

Mr Sherry said: "We had Dara and Damien in the hangar, and the third aircraft had no name, so it seemed we could call it Finley."

He said once coronavirus restrictions were eased "we'll have to get him an ID card".

Becky Eckersley, Finley's mother, said his "obsession" with helicopters began when they moved to Portland four years ago.

She added: "It helps him so much just to get away from everything at the minute... helicopters are his world and Mick's just made a dream come true for him."

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