Sea King farewell flight in Scotland

Search and rescue helicopters from HMS Gannet have made a final farewell flypast of Scotland.

Friday, 15th January 2016, 3:44 pm
Updated Friday, 15th January 2016, 3:51 pm
The Sea Kings from HMS Gannet conducted a flypast as part of thier final farewell.

Royal Navy Sea Kings have been involved in thousands of rescues since the first unit was established 44 years ago.

But the service was replaced by a civilian team at Prestwick Airport on January 1, bringing an end to military search and rescue in Scotland.

Yestaerday (Thursday) the Sea Kings flew over the scene of many past rescues and started from Prestwick at 10am.

Two helicopters in formation flew up Loch Lomond, passing over Tyndrum and then through Glen Coe and over Ben Nevis.

The crews then followed the west coast down to Oban before flying over Inverlochlarig, Stirling, Edinburgh, Ayr and finally Troon, finishing at about 2.30pm.

Last year HMS Gannet was the busiest search and rescue flight in the UK, 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.

The Sea Kings, operated by the Navy from HMS Gannet and the RAF from Lossiemouth, were a familiar sight in the skies over Scotland since the 1970s.

They were brought into service here during the Cold War in case pilots defending the UK from Scottish bases had to ditch into the North Sea.

As well as being involved with rescues in the mountains and at sea, they were often used to transport patients from the islands and other isolated areas of Scotland.

They worked with police and civilian mountain rescue teams.

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.”