SOMERSET FLYER LEADS RESCUE MISSION
For the last month local helicopter Lieutenant (Lt) Amy Gilmore has swapped her home village of Yetminster for the more dramatic landscape of flying rescue missions over hurricane devastated Caribbean islands.
As Flight Commander in charge of Royal Navy’s 216 Flight, Lt Amy Gilmore Royal Navy’s Wildcat helicopter left 815 Naval Air Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton Naval Air Station in May this year. With her team of engineers and operators their deployment, to base themselves in British ships RFA Wave Knight then RFA Mounts Bay close to British overseas territories in the Caribbean in anticipation of the annual hurricane season.
Amy has been in the vanguard of the UK’s rescue efforts since category 5 hurricanes Imra, Katya and Jose struck the area in early September, helping British dependencies with their rescue efforts. Pictured with her husband Steve in Curacao before the hurricanes struck the Caribbean, Amy’s ship was pre-positioned in the region ready to react to any potential disaster.
Working around the clock with the Royal Navy’s newest helicopter to provide aid and assistance to people in the hardest hit and most inaccessible areas Amy said
“With two of the most powerful recorded hurricanes hitting the islands in short order, it has been a terrible time for all the people out here. Whilst this has been the most demanding flying I have ever conducted, it has also been the most rewarding. We have been able to make a real difference in helping the local people recover from the devastation these hurricanes have caused“,
”I’ve been involved in disaster relief previously, continued Amy, but nothing I’ve seen before compares to this. The British Virgin Islands have been particularly hard hit, and I really hope they are able to get themselves back on their feet soon”.
Manufactured in Yeovil, her Wildcat helicopter has been invaluable in conducting initial damage assessments, search and rescue missions, opening up local airports and load lifting tonnes of much needed food and water into isolated parts of the islands. More powerful than its Lynx predecessor, the Wildcat is also very nimble and is able to squeeze into areas which larger aircraft would not be able to get to. Amy added;
“With over 90 flying hours in September this has made a phenomenal contribution to the wide range of rescue work we have been able to provide”
One spectacular rescue mission saw Amy and her team safely winch a mother and two children from the hull of a capsized merchant vessel.
Lt Cdr Steve Gilmore Amy’s husband also serves in the Royal Navy and said;
“I’m truly astounded, inspired and a little bit jealous of all that Amy and her team have achieved over the past month I’m lucky to have the inside story on their heroic work, and throughout she has been a driving force in ensuring they did all they could to help the victims of the hurricanes. Working with the amphibious assault ship RFA Mounts Bay, Royal Marines, Royal Engineers and Royal Logistics Corps, Amy has proven what a formidable force for good the Wildcat can be. I couldn’t be more proud!”
As the area stabilises Amy will return home after a busy 7 months away adding;
“I’m looking forward to getting back to the village in time for Christmas."