771 SAR Squadron meets the public
Aircrew from the Culdrose based Search and Rescue (SAR) Squadron proudly ‘showed off’ their Sea King helicopter over the Easter holidays at the ‘Search and Rescue Exhibition’ in the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth – attracting record visitor numbers.
The Squadron went to meet the public on two days over the busy Easter holiday, in particular the event on bank holiday Monday attracted record visitor numbers. 771 Naval Air Squadron were met with a long and winding crowd waiting to enter the blockbuster exhibition where the Squadron have a helicopter and flying equipment on display, alongside other interactive displays from the RNLI and the Coastguard.
Led by their new Commanding Officer, Lt Cdr Martin “Cybil” Shepherd, the team from 771 welcomed the throng of visitors with a brief overview of the Squadron history and an outline of the role of the aircrew who fly the aircraft. Following the initial welcome, the crowd surged into the interactive display questioning the aircrew on what they actually do when they are scrambled to a rescue.
On bank holiday Monday, throughout the day from 11am until the Museum shut at 5pm, the record crowd of over 2,325 visitors (smashing the previous Easter high of 1,878 in 2009) were extremely well looked after by the six aircrew from Culdrose. Lt Cdr Paul Robertson and Lt Cdr Andy Watts, both SAR Observers and medical technicians were able to answer all the rear cabin questions concerning the navigation, winching and medical assistance that are provided during real rescues. Lt Cdr Nige Terry, Lt Al Summers, Lt Simon Thompson and Lt Mark “Vasco” Barber, all SAR Pilots were able to answer the key questions of “what does that stick do and how easy is it to fly one of these things?”
“It was the busiest day we have had for quite some time and it was great having 771 NAS aircrew there to talk to people in the helicopter and while they were queuing” said Derryth Ridge, Family Learning Officer at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.
“It was a wonderful day with such a wide range of visitors both young and old but all so very keen to ask their question and patient enough to listen to the answer” said Lt Cdr Andy Watts, 771 NAS Public Relations Officer and coordinator for the “Meet the Aircrew” events. Andy added: “It seemed a shame when we had to close at 5pm as we could have carried on for much longer. Hopefully over the next two years everyone will have a chance to see this fantastic exhibit that will encompass the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict in 2012 and the 60th anniversary of Royal Navy Search and Rescue in 2013”.
Though not daunted by being hit by this tidal wave of people, 771 NAS have already agreed to repeat this unique opportunity to describe their role whilst sitting in Sea King XV663, such a unique exhibit and with an impressive flying record. Look out for other ‘Meet the Aircrew’ events planned for Monday 6th and 13th August 2012.