The skies of Cornwall will soon welcome back a couple of old friends – two helicopters which were once used for Royal Navy Search and Rescue.
The Ministry of Defence is returning two Sea King Mk5 aircraft to service, and they will once again have a life-saving role.
The aircraft which were once used by 771 Naval Air Squadron in rescue missions across Cornwall, will be leased to HeliOperations UK so that the organisation can train aircrew in the German Navy in search and rescue skills.
The two aircraft, painted in a distinctive red and grey paint scheme, were once a familiar site over Cornwall up until their retirement from service in April 2016.
The retired Sea Kings will be retained as UK military aircraft, but will be operated from HeliOperation’s training base at Portland in Dorset up until September 2018.
The maintenance activity required to bring these two aircraft back into service is being carried out at RNAS Culdrose and following ground runs, the first aircraft will commence its flight test phase soon.
Both aircraft will eventually undergo a full respray, however locals to the Culdrose area may see the first aircraft completing its test flying programme still in elements of its original search and rescue paint scheme, as the respray is scheduled after this element has been completed.
These two aircraft, and their operation over the next 14 months, do not form any part of the UK Search & Rescue organisation which remains the responsibility of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.