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Farewell flypast by HMS Gannet's helicopter heroes

Farewell flypast from Royal Navy's helicopter heroes
15 January 2016
Helicopter heroes from Royal Navy Search and Rescue (SAR) Flight, HMS Gannet, said farewell on Thursday 14 January, 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 included Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Troon, Oban, Tyndrum and Ayr.

Last year HMS Gannet was the busiest search and rescue flight in the UK, being called to attend 314 rescues.  In 2009, the Scottish-based SAR unit broke the record for most rescues in one year, conducting 447 missions around the country.  

On 1 January 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.

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

Lieutenant Commander Charlie Fuller, Commanding Officer of HMS Gannet

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 around Scotland.  

"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.”

Images taken by Royal Navy Photographer CPOA(Phot) Tam McDonald.

Visit to see a collection of your goodbye messages and images of the fly-past.

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