in Aerospace / Features / Events

60 years of search and rescue

Posted 2 August 2013 · 1 Comment

The Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset is celebrating 60 years of Royal Navy helicopter search and rescue with a summer exhibition.

At the heart of the display will be the Sea King flown by Prince Andrew in the Falklands Conflict, which was used to conduct a rescue mission during the campaign, and a Dragonfly, the small helicopter which began the rich tapestry of lifesaving and heritage.

In 1953, the Royal Navy took delivery of its first Westland Dragonfly aircraft to form dedicated search and rescue squadrons and units around the UK. And, in the intervening six decades, these brave men and women have rescued tens of thousands of stricken or stranded souls.

Highlights of the exhibition include, on 2 August at 2pm, the opportunity to meet Commander Mike Norman who received an Air Force Cross for his part in the rescue of the crew of the fishing boat Ben Asdale off the Cornish coast on New Year’s Eve 1978.

Above: A Royal Navy search and rescue crew member is winched into the cabin of a Sea King helicopter during a training exercise.
Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Paul A'Barrow, Crown copyright

On 7 and 8 August at 2pm, visitors can hear from Sergeant Tony Russell, awarded the George Medal for his bravery in rescuing 2 yachtsmen in stormy weather and mountainous seas.

And on 21 and 22 August, 2 former Royal Navy rescuers, Lieutenant Commanders Paul Belding and David Elliott, will share their experiences of rescues conducted in the 70s from Royal Naval Air Station Lossiemouth.

Current serving search and rescue crew members will also be at the museum to chat to members of the public on 7, 8, 12, 21, 22, 29 and 30 August, and on 4 and 5 September. The exhibition runs until 5 September.

Above: The Royal Navy took delivery of its first Westland Dragonfly aircraft in 1953 to form dedicated search and rescue units around the UK.
Crown copyright

Young visitors can really get a feel for what it is like to be a rescue hero, with flight overalls and helmets to try on, and they can experience what it might feel like to await rescue at sea by trying out a life raft.

1 Comment for 60 years of search and rescue

Duncan Lunan

posted 4 years ago

I was Manager of the Glasgow Parks Astronomy Project, on which we built the first astronomically aligned stone circle in the UK for over 3000 years. The circle was completed on 20th April 1979 in 'Operation Megalithic Lift' by an 819 Squadron Sea King from HMS Gannet. I've told the story in my recent book "The Stones and the Stars" and have extensive photo documentation. The circle now faces demolition in regeneration of the area and there's a campaign to save it or at least to reuse the stones. Please contact me if any more details are wanted - DL.

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