News article: RAF rescue crew battles 'whiteout' to help pregnant woman


War Hero
Ministry of Defence said:
RAF SAR units were assigned 9 incidents, and 13 people were directly assisted by SAR teams over the period, including a heavily pregnant woman.
As a result of the snowfall over the past few days, many roads across the UK became impassable, with many drivers being left stranded or abandoning their cars. The SAR crews are at a constant state of readiness, prepared to scramble at a moment’s notice to rescue those who find themselves at risk at sea or on land.
On the morning of Friday 18 January, the UK Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) at Kinloss in Morayshire received an urgent request for helicopter assistance to move a pregnant woman with a suspected breach-birth from a minor injuries unit in Frome, Somerset, to specialist medical care facilities at the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
As roads became treacherous, duty controllers at the UK ARCC assigned an RAF SAR Sea King helicopter, which took off from the team’s North Devon base at Chivenor straight into a thick snowstorm.
The aircraft’s captain, Flight Lieutenant ‘Taff’ Wilkins, described the conditions:
The air was very turbulent so we headed out over the Bristol Channel to reach cleaner air. The visibility was below 500 metres and we had to descend to below 100 feet for most of the flight to Frome.
At one point we were flying at 50 feet above the sea in order to make a successful transit. After coasting in, we flew at an average height of 70 feet above ground level, making use of roads and other ground features to navigate to Frome.

A Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Sea King helicopter on exercise in Snowdonia (stock image) [Picture: Senior Aircraftman Dave Rose, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]When the crew arrived, conditions were near zero visibility due to the intense snowfall. These ‘whiteout’ conditions arise when a helicopter is landing in snowy conditions.
The downwash from the helicopter’s rotors recirculates the air around the helicopter which leads to a small bubble where the visibility drops almost to zero in the final landing stage.
The RAF’s SAR crews have a technique to help them land in ‘whiteout’ conditions, as Flight Lieutenant Wilkins explained:
We popped a smoke grenade onto the ground next to the landing site as we overflew it on our first pass. The orange smoke provided us with a fixed visual reference to fly to when we entered ‘whiteout’.
It’s a standard helicopter technique taught to military helicopter pilots and proved its worth twice for us this morning.
After a successful landing at Frome, Flight Lieutenant Wilkins and his fellow pilot Flight Lieutenant Dominic Sanderson checked their engines for any sign of snow or ice build-up while the pregnant woman was taken onboard by stretcher.
Flight Lieutenant Wilkins said:
There was a very real danger that this lady might have given birth during the flight. With the complication of a potential breach-birth, the rear crew had all their medical kit ready to hand.
On a clear day, this would have been a very simple nine-mile, straight-line flight, but the heavy snowfall and poor visibility meant that, once again, we had to fly this leg below 100 feet above ground level whilst navigating almost from field to field.
We made another ‘whiteout’ landing at Bath Hospital. The lady was taken straight to medical care and we flew back to our base at Chivenor.

Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
MoD_RSS Speech: Britain champions free speech, so we’re leading the war on fake news: article by Jeremy Hunt MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News story: Harmonising airworthiness article MoD News 0
PedlarP Interesting News Article... The Gash Barge 2
MoD_RSS News article: Prince Harry completes tour of duty in Afghanistan The Gash Barge 97
MoD_RSS News article: International efforts to tackle piracy given a boost MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News article: 2 PARA plough on through snowy exercise MoD News 1
MoD_RSS News article: G8 Political Directors’ statement on Mali MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News article: New £14 million contract boosts Brimstone missile stocks MoD News 2
MoD_RSS News article: Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Mali MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News article: UK welcomes establishment of EU Training Mission to Mali MoD News 3
MoD_RSS News article: Foreign Office Minister updates on Algerian hostage crisis MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News article: New treaty to formalise defence co-operation with Australia MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News article: The Foreign Secretary has commented on the hostage crisis in Algeria MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News article: This week at the Foreign Office MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News article: Foreign Secretary updates on situation in Algeria MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News article: The Foreign Secretary gave an update on the situation in Algeria today MoD News 0
bollotom 10yr old article posted as 'news' The Gash Barge 12
deano_navy SDSR news article. Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: increase to 'payments on account' applications MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: updated contract schedules from 1 September 2020 MoD News 0
soleil FB: Forces News: "HMS Queen Elizabeth Sails Back Into Her Home Port Of Portsmouth As A "Fully Trained" Aircraft Carrier" The Fleet 0
higthepig Navy news June 2020 The Quarterdeck 0
soleil Portsmouth News: "Royal Navy flyers Land On Pitching Postage Stamp Deck | Nostalgia" The Fleet Air Arm 14
MoD_RSS Crime news: contingency waiver for CRM7 claims ends 6 July 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: CRM12 duty rota deadline is 13 July 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Edition 22: News from the Adjudicator MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: revised fees for immigration and asylum work MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: secure file exchange ‘sign-up’ guidance available MoD News 0
higthepig Navy news May 2020 The Quarterdeck 1
MoD_RSS Civil news: speedier payments on way for court assessed bills MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: Advocacy assistance now claimable on Intensive Paper Reviews MoD News 0
soleil Portsmouth News: "34 Great Old Photos Of The Famous Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier HMS Hermes" The Fleet 1
soleil Portsmouth News: "Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier HMS Prince Of Wales To Carry Out Investigation After Flooding Onboard" The Fleet 16
MoD_RSS Civil news: mandatory telephone gateway phased out MoD News 0
soleil Forces News: "How Is The Defence Animal Training Regiment Working During Lockdown?" Current Affairs 1
soleil The News: "Royal Navy Warships To Blast Sirens And Light The Sky As Portsmouth Marks VE Day" The Fleet 9
soleil The News: "Royal Navy Destroyer Prone To Breaking Down In The Gulf Leaves Portsmouth For Key Engine Upgrade" The Fleet 3
MoD_RSS British Ambassador to Turkeminstan's interview with Arzuw News MoD News 0
higthepig Navy news March 2020 The Quarterdeck 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: guidance on self-employed complex means applications MoD News 0
higthepig Navy news February 2020 The Quarterdeck 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: providers praise new online ‘Apply’ tool MoD News 0
MoD_RSS UK aid to tackle global spread of coronavirus ‘fake news’ MoD News 0
BillyNoMates Plymouth News Update Current Affairs 4
higthepig Navy news January 2020 The Quarterdeck 2
soleil i News: "BBC And ITV In Battle Over Rival British Nuclear Submarine Murder Dramas" Submariners 10
soleil i News: "'You’re Only Ever 15 minutes Away From Launching A Missile': What It Was Like To Be A Cold War Submariner" Submariners 13
soleil Portsmouth News: "Weetabix Advert Stars Gosport Submarine Museum's HMS Alliance" Submariners 8
soleil Navy News (FB): North Shields - HMS Northumberland - Ship Open To Visitors - Saturday, February 8th 2020 The Fleet 1
MoD_RSS Crime news: contract schedules to be issued MoD News 0
Similar threads