Royal Navy, May 21, 2015 - The people of Cornwall came out in their thousands to wish 771 Naval Air Squadron a ‘Happy 76th Birthday’.
The eyes of Cornwall looked up between 10:30 – 12:00 as five Sea King helicopters from the Search and Rescue Squadron, based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, flew in formation around the west coast of Cornwall.
The sixth aircraft due to fly was scrambled to two consecutive rescue missions just before the formation got airborne.
771 Squadron decided to celebrate its 76th year, by flying around the coast from Helston to Land's End, up to Newquay and over Truro, before flying back to the Lizard via Falmouth.
One of the main reasons for organising the event was to say thank you to the people of Cornwall for their continued support over the years. It will be the Squadron’s last birthday before it hands over its search and rescue duties at the end of the year.
The five four-man crews were extremely touched by the number of people who made the effort to come out and give them a wave during their 150 mile tour of the coast.
Over the years, 771 Naval Air Squadron has lived up to its motto ‘non nobis solum - not unto us alone’. At 15 minutes notice by day and 45 minutes by night (although they usually get airborne in less), the Squadron is capable of operating within a 200 nautical mile radius of RNAS Culdrose.
They carry out over 200 rescues a year, ranging from plucking sailors from sinking ships, to airlifting casualties of road traffic accidents to hospital and assisting the police in carrying out aerial searches for missing people.
Every year they save many lives in some of the most hazardous conditions imaginable, often putting their own lives at risk.
Their assistance to mariners in distress has gained them much recognition, awards and bravery medals (such as, famously, the Fastnet race of 1979, Boscastle Floods in 2004, the MSC Napoli in January 2007 and more recently the Panamera and La Sillon).
A busy Engineering Team works hard to keep the Sea King helicopters ready to fly when the emergency demands, one available for tasking and a second on the Culdrose tarmac ready to join it in the skies if necessary.