The Royal Air Force bowed out from it’s Search And Rescue role in the UK on Sunday 4th October, as the last base stood down – RAF Chivenor, it confirmed on Twitter. Although planned for 30 September, a last minute hitch meant that Bristow Helicopters were not able to start operations until Sunday, with their AW139 G-CILN flying the first mission from the new base at St Athan. G-CILN took off at 1406L using call sign Rescue 187, flying to a position North of Carmarthen (Wales Air Forum reported “South west of Brechfa Forest”) and returning with a casualty to Blackweir Fields, Cardiff to an awaiting road ambulance and transported to the University Hospital of Wales.
Later in the day it took off again at 1845L, this time to the Loughor Estuary.
Ironically, St Athan was itself a Royal Air Force base, with the first unit formed there back in September 1938 and has been in continuous use as a training school ever since. The base is currently in a transition period to a civilian airfield, and is currently known as MOD St Athan, and not RAF St Athan as previously. The National Police Air Service also maintains a base there, and performs routine maintenance on police helicopters from other bases.
While Chivenor was technically the last RAF SAR operation, it was only four days after RAF Boulmer stood down as well.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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