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Casualty prepared for the lift
Winched to the helicopter
Gannet's SAR Sea King

HMS Gannet SAR Sea King rescue

Published: 01 Aug 2013

A man was airlifted by a Royal Navy helicopter from the roof of Castle Stalker near Appin in Argyll on Tuesday 30th July.

The duty search and rescue crew from HMS Gannet in Prestwick, Ayrshire was airborne at 2.25pm and on scene at the remote Highland location at 2.55pm.

A local doctor was already with the man, who was suffering from acute pain, when the helicopter arrived and pain relief had been administered. The man’s condition was not caused by an injury or fall at the castle.

After arriving at the castle, which is situated on a rocky island in Loch Laich near Loch Linnhe, the helicopter landed on the mainland to assess the best airlift options, before taking off to recover the man from the roof of the 15th century structure. Oban Lifeboat and Appin Coastguard were also in attendance.

Duty winchman, Lieutenant Commander Martin ‘Florry’ Ford, a qualified paramedic, recovered the casualty to the helicopter on a stretcher and ensured the man remained stable and comfortable throughout the journey.

The helicopter then routed to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, delivering the man into the hands of medical staff at approximately 4.15pm.

“As rescues go, this was not a particularly difficult one – certainly the weather conditions were reasonably benign,” said Lieutenant Richie Lightfoot, the duty aircraft commander and HMS Gannet’s senior observer.

“But it was an extremely unusual setting for us – in my 20 years’ flying experience, I have never actually winched someone from the roof of a castle.

“The priority, as ever, was to rapidly and safely get the man out of the location and deliver him to the medical experts, which we did.”

Castle Stalker was one of two Scottish castles – the other being Doune – which featured in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Images courtesy of Stuart Cairns.


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