As part of my photo project on Scottish mountain rescue, I was lucky enough to receive an invite to attend a helicopter training session between Oban Mountain Rescue Team and the Royal Navy's HMS Gannet Search and Rescue Flight.
HMS Gannet's Search and Rescue Flight crew are a key component of mountain rescue in Scotland, medically assisting people on the hill and transporting mountain rescue team members into places that would take them hours to walk or climb into. Based in Prestwick in Southwest Scotland, they provide search and rescue services for large parts of Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland.
The SAR flight crew landed in Glen Lonan, still on-call, in one of HMS Gannet's three Sea King helicopters. After a briefing by Lieutenant Angela Lewis and Petty Officer Aircrewman Shaun 'Boogie' Knights - which included advice on where not to stand in the helicopter in crampons (!) - the Oban MRT team members practiced the various skills they'd need in a rescue situation, including entering and exiting the aircraft on a winch and using a long line to transfer equipment between the craft and the ground. (Which I've no doubt is vastly easier on the flat ground of Glen Lonan on a pleasant Spring evening than it would be on the steep side of a mountain in a blizzard. Not sure that it's better for photos though :-)
Watching the skills people have, I had a great time and say thanks again to Oban Mountain Rescue Team for the opportunity to be there. (A reminder, if needed, that all their team members volunteer for mountain rescue, on top of their full-time jobs. Donations are always welcome, see their website for more details).
Thanks also to the HMS Gannet Search and Rescue Flight crew. You can find out more about them at the Royal Navy website, including details of their monthly mission summaries.