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Royal Navy helicopter rescues two walkers clinging to steep slope
Royal Navy helicopter rescues two walkers clinging to steep slope

HMS Gannet SAR Sea King rescues two walkers

Published: 02 Oct 2014

Two people, who lost their footing when a path gave way on Harts Fell near Moffat in Dumfriesshire, have been rescued by a Royal Navy helicopter.

The Sea King from HMS Gannet at Prestwick was diverted from training on Sunday September 28 at 11.25am and was on scene at 11.50am.

One walker was sitting down at the top of the precipitous incline, with his friend lying down on the rocky ground just below – the lower of the two was clinging to a shepherd’s crook held by the other

The men, who had been walking a well-trodden path when it disintegrated below their feet, were stranded just below a ridge at the top of a gully and the rescue was complicated still further by low cloud base.

Because of the nature of the surrounding hills and the tricky visibility, it was necessary to effectively reverse the helicopter into a position as close as they dared to the two walkers.

“We had to get as near to them as we could, so that we could safely winch our aircrewman down,” explained Lieutenant Commander Jon Green, pilot and duty aircraft commander.

“But, because we knew that they were not only on unstable ground, but that one of them was holding the other by his crook, we had to keep the hover as high as possible to avoid dislodging either the people or the scree with the downwash from the helicopter.

“With the low cloud base, however, this was very difficult.

“There was no question of our aircrewman Chief Petty Officer Shaun ‘Boogie’ Knights detaching from the winch – the conditions underfoot were just too unpredictable.

“So we had to put ourselves into a steady hover about 100 feet directly above them both.

“Boogie went down on the wire and managed to quickly secure a strop around the lower of the two men, before recovering him to the aircraft.

“The same procedure was repeated for his walking partner.”

Neither walker was injured, but both were, understandably, very shaken by their dramatic experience.

The emergency call to the police was made at approximately 11.05am, so the seated walker had been holding his friend on the end of the stick for some 45 minutes by the time the helicopter came on scene.

Both walkers were experienced and well equipped.

The two walkers were delivered to waiting police at a nearby farm at 12.20pm.

The full Gannet duty crew was Lieutenant Commanders Jon Green and Martin Lanni (pilots), Lieutenant Angela Lewis (observer/navigator) and Chief Petty Officer Shaun Knights (aircrewman/paramedic).


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