Without fanfare or farewell, the second and last Sea King of D Flight, 202 Squadron departed from RAF Lossiemouth on Tuesday morning – the first having left last week.
The familiar and welcome sight and sound for Moray residents will be sorely missed with SAR duties now in the hands of the Coastguard when on April 1 Bristow helicopters and crews assumed responsibility for the role.
Now maximum effort is being made by Morayvia to secure one of the Sea Kings as a permanent display in their forthcoming Interactive Science and Technology Centre at Kinloss in Moray – a task made more complex by the removal of both Sea Kings from the region.
Morayvia’s chief executive Stan Barbour said: “The passing of the RAF Lossiemouth’s Sea Kings has been done with little public ceremony and it appears there have been strenuous efforts to avoid drawing any attention.
“That is a great shame as the contribution military SAR assets have made to civilian rescue is well understood and appreciated by the public – as is the bravery, professionalism and dedication of its personnel.
“The Ministry of Defence could have capitalised on public opinion and perceptions by allowing one of Sea Kings to remain in Moray rather than being flown south for disposal, but it is still not too late for it to act.
“Morayvia has been working steadfastly to secure a SAR Sea King for display at its Science and Technology Experience Project at North Road Kinloss. Raising funds from public donations as well as from its pop-up shop in the St Giles Centre, Morayvia aims to provide a fitting display to the work of the SAR services in Moray, the Highlands and NE Scotland.
“We have been advised by the MoD that it will be offered a SAR Sea King when they come up for disposal – although it cannot be gifted and will be priced according to the condition at sale. The ball is now squarely in their court to ensure that the memories of the RAF’s Search and Rescue service, so dear to the people of Scotland, are preserved and recorded for generations to come with a suitably complete yellow Sea King.
“It would be a tragedy if the efforts of air and ground crews in maintaining a continuous military SAR standby day in and day out ready to respond to any emergency from hill rescue, to casualty evacuation to rescue at sea, were left unrecorded in Moray.
“The RAF should be justifiably proud of what is has achieved and of the communities that have embraced and supported them in their endeavours.”