The Royal Navy’s helicopter heroes have been involved in thousands of Scottish rescues in the 44 years since the unit was first established. Royal Navy Photo
Royal Navy Search and Rescue (SAR) Flight, HMS Gannet, are set to say “so-long Scotland” with a final farewell fly-past.
The Royal Navy’s helicopter heroes, who are based at HMS Gannet in Prestwick, have been involved in thousands of Scottish rescues in the 44 years since the unit was first established.
On Dec. 30, they performed a major rescue when they assisted 12 people trapped on a bus caught in floodwater near Girvan. Two days later, on Jan. 1, the unit handed the rescue baton to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency contractor Bristow Helicopters, bringing to an end military SAR.
“The fly-past is our chance to say farewell and hopefully people will come out to wave goodbye too,” said LCdr Charlie Fuller, RN.
But on Thursday, Jan. 14, the Gannet team will get the chance to say goodbye when they fly past some of the areas that have seen the majority of their rescues. And the team is hoping that the public will come out to wave them goodbye.
Weather permitting, Royal Navy Sea King helicopters from HMS Gannet will fly-over Prestwick at 10 a.m., Glasgow at 10:30 a.m., Garelochhead at 10:45 a.m., Tyndrum/Crainlarich at 11 a.m., Lochaber at 11:40 a.m., Oban at 12: 40 p.m., Inverlochlarig at 1:05 p.m., Stirling at 1:25 p.m., Edinburgh at 1:40 p.m., Ayr at 2:25 p.m., back to Prestwick at 2:27 p.m., and finally, Troon at 2:30 p.m.
“Over the years HMS Gannet has enjoyed immense support from communities the length and breadth of Scotland. The fly-past is our chance to say farewell and hopefully people will come out to wave goodbye too,” said Commanding Officer of HMS Gannet, LCdr Charlie Fuller.
During 2015, HMS Gannet was the busiest search and rescue flight in the United Kingdom, completing over 300 rescues. The unit also holds the record for the most rescues in one year when, in 2009, HMS Gannet conducted 447 rescues around the country.
The Dec. 30 events saw the duty crew, LCdr Martin Lanni, Lt Richie Lightfoot, Lt James Bullock and PO Alan Speed, rescue 10 people in Dailly near Girvan. The crew avoided 120-foot trees and racing currents to rescue the stricken passengers trapped on a bus caught in floodwaters.
The crew worked until they reached their fuel endurance and a final two persons were recovered by boat.
Their final day of operations was relatively routine in comparison, with Gannet spending the morning flying a casualty from the Isle of Rhum to Glasgow University Hospital for further medical treatment and the afternoon helping police in the Invergary area.
This marked the 313th job of the year and the final task by HMS Gannet.
The final duty crew were CO and Pilot LCdr Charles Fuller, Pilot LCdr Stuart Pike, Observer LCdr Florry Ford, and Aircrewman CPO Shaun Knights.