North Northumberland Coastguard rescue officers held their last training session with a Sea King helicopter from RAF Boulmer tonight, before giving it an emotional wave-off.
The military search and rescue (SAR) service, which has operated from the RAF base on the Northumberland coast since 1975, will cease to operate at the end of this month. Its last day – Wednesday, September 30.
The yellow Sea Kings arrived in December 1978 to replace the existing Westland Whirlwind aircraft and have been a familiar sight in the skies over the area ever since.
Bristow Helicopters Ltd will operate the service for the UK on behalf of HM Coastguard, taking over from RAF and Royal Navy crews, such as 202 Squadron at RAF Boulmer, on October 1.
Tonight, Coastguard teams from Howick and Amble conducted highline training – ensuring a stretcher carrying an injured person doesn’t spin when being winched aboard. Some officers were given the opportunity to experience being winched into the aircraft before it headed back to base.
Earlier in the evening, the Sea King made a poignant flypast for a reception at RAF Boulmer to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. It was joined by a Typhoon jet, which roared over the Officers Mess parade square before making a steep climb.
If you have any memories of the Sea Kings that you would like to share, we’d be pleased to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org