The Royal Navy: Pioneers of the Air

Pioneers of the Air

At the Cornish air station RNAS Culdrose, one hundred and twenty Royal Navy personnel are stepping up to help the community in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The Naval Air Station has three of its Merlin Mk2 helicopters on notice to deploy as air ambulances in order to support the NHS across the south west.

Throughout history the Royal Navy has used its craft to assist people who find them themselves in danger. The very first use of an aircraft for a search and rescue mission was carried out by navy pilot, Lieutenant Richard Bell-Davies, during the First World War. For his valour in this duty, Lt Bell-Davies was awarded the Victoria Cross, which can be found on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

Royal Navy air rescue

Operating aircraft from the decks of ships is extremely demanding and challenging, which is why naval aviation requires a unique set of particular skills above that of many other pilots and aircrew. Crew have to be able to respond in all weather conditions and navigate during the night and even with poor visibility. Often called upon to support Royal Marine Commandos, Royal Navy aircrew are equipped to navigate different terrains including the jungle, arctic and desert conditions. This level of training leaves Royal Navy pilots well placed to respond to all manner of crises and aid assistance requests.

Pioneers of the Air

In 1952, during the great floods of East Anglia and across the English Channel in Holland, 705 Naval Air Squadron used their Dragonfly helicopters to rescue over 840 people from roof tops and outcrops of flooded land, flying in atrocious weather. As well as this, Royal Navy aircrew have rescued stranded scientists from the Antarctic, provided emergency casualty evacuations from jungle areas in Borneo and saved merchant seamen from blazing and sinking cargo ships. Most recently, Royal Navy Lynx helicopters have been used to deliver food, water and medical supplies to areas devastated by hurricanes or tsunamis. This snapshot of past efforts demonstrates how vital the adaptability and services of the Royal Navy are during challenging times.esponsive the navy can be in times of crisis.

White BG