The familiar Red and Grey Sea King of 771 Squadron will be displaying with the RNLI Dartmouth ILB on Saturday 1st September at 12:00 pm. The pilots this year will be Lt’s Andy Knight, Alistair Andrew’s and Sean Jehu (USA Coast Guard exchange pilot), ably assisted by Observers Lt Cdr Lee Kennington and Lt Cdr Richy Full and Crewman Chief PO Dave Rigg in the rear.
For nearly half a century, 771 Naval Air Squadron – known as the Ace of Clubs – has lived up to its motto non nobis solum – ‘not unto us alone’, or in 21st-Century speak, 'for the greater good'. Our Sea Kings are scrambled at least 200 times a year, and the figure is rising.
771’s helicopters, which feature the squadron’s unofficial Ace of Clubs logo, provide search and rescue cover for the Western Approaches: that’s the Cornish peninsula, the Isles of Scilly and the Atlantic/Channel to a distance of 200 nautical miles.
That can mean mariners in distress (such as, famously, the Fastnet race of 1979 or the MSC Napoli, almost wrecked by Hurricane Kyrill in January 2007) or holidaymakers, walkers, climbers, divers and surfers in difficulty around the Cornish coast (as seen on the TV series Seaside Rescue).
The helicopters are also called upon to ferry patients/injured people to hospital in the West Country.
One of our helicopters is at 15 minutes’ notice to fly by day, 45 by night, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with a second on the Culdrose tarmac ready to join it in the skies should the emergency demand.