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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution - Saves Lives at Sea

CHINOOK TRAINING - FIRST IN SCOTLAND

25/10/2004

Never before has such a sight been seen anywhere in the country! A mini Airshow and Rescue training display will be held in Kinghorn over two days......

On Saturday 30th October 2004, Kinghorn RNLI Lifeboat Station will play host to the largest Helicopter ever to land on a beach and to take part in winching and rescue trials along with an RNLI lifeboat in Scotland...

The RAF Chinook Helicopter from RAF Odium, Hampshire, will land on the beach at Kinghorn Harbour, Kinghorn around Midday, while the crews, including Anstruther's, Mersey RNLI Lifeboat crew and South Queensferry's RNLI Lifeboat crew, receive a joint briefing and some Bacon Rolls. (if conditions are unfavourable, it will land in Myers Park) Anyone who is unable to watch the event on the Saturday, will be pleased to hear that a Royal Navy Helicopter will be landing on the beach around 10.30 am on Sunday (31/09/04) for further training exercises.

Chinooks are used primarily for trooping and for load carrying (both internal and underslung) and can carry up to 54 troops or 10 tons of freight. The cabin is large enough to accommodate two Land Rovers, while the three underslung load hooks allow a huge flexibility in the type and number of loads that can be carried. Secondary roles include Search and Rescue and Casualty Evacuation (a total of 24 stretchers can be carried). The crew consists of either two pilots, or a pilot and navigator, and two Air Loadmasters. The Specifications for the twin engined Helicopter are:

Engines:
Two Avco Lycoming turboshafts

Length:
51ft 0in (15.54m)

Rotor Diameter:
60ft 0in (18.29m)

Top Speed:
185mph (298 km/h)

Helmsman Mike McErlane who arranged the joint operation, explained: 'This will be an exciting sight for everyone, but it also has a very serious side. Both helicopters and RNLI lifeboats need to train for the situation where there is a need for multiple rescues at sea and both need to have the skills to achieve this and the trust in each other, that each service knows how the other works.'

Continuing he said: 'The only way to achieve these skills and trust, is to train regularly so that it becomes second nature and you understand the operating requirements of the other services. There is a large amount of traffic in the Forth, including the Superfast Ferries and Cruise ships travelling to Edinburgh which carry lots of passengers. Lots of air traffic crosses the Forth Estuary as well. Although these vessels and aircraft are inherently safe with all the required safety equipment on board, we know that disasters can strike and we need to be prepared to save as many lives as possible, should a disaster occur in our area, which includes the Edinburgh side of the coastline.'

'When I received the chance to work with the biggest of all the Helicopters out there, I jumped at it! I'm sure all the crews who come down to train will see a very big difference between the normal helo flying above us and this monster!'

John Caldwell, Divisional Inspector for the RNLI in Scotland said: 'Less than 10% of new RNLI crew members have a maritime background, this means regular training is more vital than ever before. Each week RNLI volunteer crews train for dramatic rescues in the worst weather conditions, storm force winds, sub zero temperatures, near zero visibility and 40ft waves. All the crew are dependent on each other; getting it right is a matter of life or death."

All RNLI lifeboat crews are voluntary and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which is a charity set up to save lives at sea, is totally funded by public donations. Everyone is invited to come and watch the displays. The station has a gift shop and you are welcome to browse the gifts on display.