The Royal Navy’s Search and Rescue flight at HMS Gannet in Prestwick, has been involved in thousands of Scottish rescues in the 44-years since the unit was first established.
On December 30 it performed a major rescue when it assisted 12 people trapped on a bus caught in floodwater near Girvan. Two days later, on January 1, the unit handed the rescue baton to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency contractor Bristow Helicopters, bringing to an end military Search and Rescue (SAR).
On Thursday, January 14, the Gannet team will be saying their final goodbye when they fly past some of the areas that have seen the majority of their rescues.
Weather permitting, Royal Navy Sea King helicopters from HMS Gannet will fly-over Prestwick at 10am, Glasgow at 10.30am, Garelochhead at 10.45am, Tyndrum / Crainlarich at 11am, Lochaber at 11.40am, Oban at 12.40pm, Inverlochlarig at 1.05pm, Stirling at 1.25pm, Edinburgh at 1.40pm, Ayr at 2.25pm, back to Prestwick at 2.27pm and finally, Troon at 2.30pm.
Commanding Officer of HMS Gannet, Lieutenant Commander Charlie Fuller, said: “Over the years HMS Gannet has enjoyed immense support from communities the length and breadth of Scotland. The fly-past is our chance to say farewell and hopefully people will come out to wave goodbye too.”
During 2015 HMS Gannet was the busiest search and rescue flight in the UK, completing over 300 rescues. The unit also holds the record for the most rescues in one year when, in 2009, HMS Gannet conducted 447 rescues around the country.
The December 30th events saw the duty crew, Lieutenant Commander Martin Lanni, Lieutenant Richie Lightfoot, Lieutenant James Bullock and Petty Officer Alan Speed rescue ten people in Dailly near Girvan.
The crew avoided 120ft trees and racing currents to rescue the stricken passengers trapped on a bus caught in floodwaters. The crew worked until reaching their fuel endurance and a final two persons were recovered by boat.
Their final day of operations was relatively routine in comparison, with Gannet spending the morning flying a casualty from the Isle of Rhum to Glasgow University Hospital for further medical treatment and the afternoon helping police in the Invergary area.