PUBLIC WAVE GOODBYE TO ROYAL NAVY’S HELICOPTER HEROES
Helicopter heroes from Royal Navy Search and Rescue (SAR) Flight, HMS Gannet, said farewell on Thursday, January 14, with a final fly-past some of the Scottish communities which have seen the majority of their rescues.
Three Royal Navy Sea King helicopters left HMS Gannet’s base at Prestwick at 10am on the day and completed a flight route which includedGlasgow,Edinburgh,Stirling, Troon, Oban, Tyndrum and Troon.
Last year HMS Gannet was the busiest search and rescue flight in theUK, being called to attend 300 rescues. In 2009, the Scottish-based SAR unit broke the record for most rescues in one year, conducting 447 missions around the country.
On January 1st their 44-year SAR responsibilities finished when they handed-over to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency contractor Bristow Helicopters.
The final fly-past was an emotional time for the HMS Gannet crew. Commanding Officer of the unit, Lieutenant Commander Charlie Fuller, who flew on the final fly-past, said: “There was definitely a lump in the throat. It’s sad to be saying goodbye, but there is also a huge sense of pride at a mission which has been completed well.
“HMS Gannet has played a big role in many people’s lives. The unit was not only a significant part of the local Prestwick community, but has touched dozens of often remote communities aroundScotland. It was amazing to see so many members of the public come out to wave us off as we flew past. We would like to thank each and every one of them.”
He continued: “Many of the pilots and crew from Bristow have a military Search and Rescue background so we know that we are leaving people in safe hands.”