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Search And Rescue Helicopters

Sea King

On the opposite side of the main runway from the control tower lies the helicopter base used by both SARTU and No.22 Search And Rescue Squadron, 'C' flight.

Until quite recently the venerable Wessex was used by both, normally five of the type belonging to SARTU, and two to No.22.

Now they have been replaced by Sea King HAR3s, two actively involved in the SAR role and three Bell 412 Griffins for SARTU.

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The primary role of the Search And Rescue helicopters is to provide assistance to RAF aircrew in trouble, however, the majority of the time their call-outs will be to save civilian lives. In an average year they will be called out 170 or so times.

A helicopter is ready to go 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. During the daylight hours they are on 15 minutes readiness, stretching to an hour at night, though in fact their response time would usually be much quicker. The squadron motto is "22 Rescue You"

The Sea King is powered by two Rolls-Royce H1400-1 Gnome turboshaft engines rated at 1,660shp, and can accommodate a crew of four with up to 19 passengers. It's fitted with all-weather search and navigation equipment and a positioning computer. The winch operator can fly the aircraft when hovering, enabling him/her to position the rescue harness with great accuracy.

The next two terrific shots were kindly donated by Chas McHugh, the first in the Yorkshire Dales and the second at Leconfield.

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 heli22.jpg (39053 bytes)

If you're interested in Turbine engines, visit Roger Marmion's page here for more information.

Sea King HAR3 statistics

  • Range : 280 nautical miles
  • Max speed : 143 mph
  • Rotor Diameter: 62'
  • Length: 55' 9.75"
  • First based at Valley : 1997