Tower rescue crew receives award

Published:  16 October, 2018

HM Coastguard’s search and rescue (SAR) helicopter crew from Lee-on-Solent, on the south Hampshire coast, has received an industry award recognising the successful recovery of a group of visitors trapped on landmark tower overlooking the English Channel.

Captain Simon Tye, Captain Simon Hoare, Winch Operator Chris Hughes, and Winchman Paramedic Alf Kitwood received the Goodrich Hoist Award at Helitech International 2018, one of the world’s largest helicopter aviation events, in Amsterdam on Monday.

They received widespread public recognition in September 2017, after being called out to rescue 13 visitors – including an eight-month-old baby – who were trapped when the rotating viewing platform on the Jurassic Skyline tower in Dorset became stuck, 180ft off the ground.

In one of the most technically challenging SAR missions in recent memory the crew, flying in a Leonardo AW189 SAR aircraft, airlifted the visitors to safety in small groups, as part of a multi-agency response following the failure of the tower’s systems.

Bristow Helicopters Limited operates the UK SAR helicopter service on behalf of HM Coastguard with state-of-the-art helicopters, equipped with the latest search and rescue technology including night vision, mission management and increased onboard medical capabilities.

Damien Oliver, Aviation Programme director at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: ‘This mission demonstrates the wide range of tasks our helicopters are asked to support. Far from the traditional view, the public may have of the work of our search and rescue helicopters, this unique mission showed quite how versatile Her Majesty’s Coastguard helicopter service is.’ 

Nick Horst, Chief Crewman at Lee-on-Solent, who nominated his colleagues for the award, said: ‘There was a very high degree of skill involved in this rescue, it was evident very early on that this was going to be no routine call-out.

‘The team had to cope with a very high hover and winching height, in fading light, for almost four hours. In a hugely challenging set of circumstances, including more than two hours of winching time, the crew successfully brought the group of very frightened people safely back to land.

‘Their trust in each other, the aircraft and equipment – in particular, the winch – are a superb example of their dedication to achieving the incredibly high standards which UKSAR crews across the country strive to meet.’

The Lee-on-Solent base on the Hampshire coast is operated by a team of 31 and was the first to bring the new AW189 aircraft into service for HM Coastguard in 2017. The Leonardo AW189 is the latest generation helicopter in its category, designed to meet long-range, high endurance requirements for search and rescue missions in the most demanding operational and environmental conditions.

Bristow began operating the UK’s SAR helicopter service on behalf of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) in 2015, after winning the tender in 2013. 

  • Operation Florian

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