The Prince Philip Helicopter Rescue Award will be presented to the crew of a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter from HMS Chatham for the successful rescue in May last year of 23 crew from the container ship ‘MV Dubai Moon’ in the Northern Indian Ocean. Caught in a tropical cylone, the merchant ship was rolling heavily through 40 degrees and sinking by the bow with a significant pitching motion.
HMS Chatham’s Lynx helicopter, flown by Flight Commander Lieutenant Peter Higgins RN, and Observer, Lieutenant Craig Castle RAN, worked for over three hours in storm conditions that were at the very edge of the aircraft envelope. So arduous were the winching activities that they had to be shared between AET Wilmot, who was carrying out his first live winching from the aircraft following his qualifying course and Lieutenant Commander Chesterman.
Lt Cdr Chesterman had been visiting HMS Chatham to conduct a Ship Operational Airworthiness Audit on behalf of Navy Command HQ, when he volunteered to assist with the rescue. While a qualified Lynx Observer, he had not flown for 15 years and it was his first time as winchman in a rescue mission.
The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators was established in 1929, by a small group of commercial pilots led by Sir Alan Cobham, who were largely responsible for ensuring that their successors enjoyed a professional status and one of the Guild's objectives has been to foster and improve that standing. The Guild became a Livery Company of the City of London in 1956: a rarely bestowed mark of distinction. This was a great factor in increasing not only the influence of the Guild, the 81st Livery Company to be formed in 800 years, but of the entire profession of pilot and navigator in the United Kingdom and overseas. The principal activities of the Guild are centred on developing action and activities to ensure that aircraft are piloted and navigated safely by aviators who are highly competent, self-reliant, dependable and respected. The Guild supports the education and training of pilots and navigators from the initial training of the young pilot to the specialist training of the highest levels. Through its charitable activities, education and training, technical committee work, aircrew selection, scholarships and sponsorships, advice and recognition of the achievements of fellow aviators world wide, the Guild keeps itself at the forefront of the aviation world.
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