Sea King helicopters perform final fly past over South Coast of UK


Five Junglie Sea King MK4 helicopters have performed a final flypast over the South Coast of the UK as a final salute before the aircraft is taken out of service.

The aircraft took off from their base of 37 years at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, to fly a 475-mile route that took them over Salisbury, Andover, Portsmouth, the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and on to Dartmouth and Plymouth before heading north to fly along the north Devon and north Somerset coastline to Bristol.

The final leg of the six-hour flight took the five-strong formation past Glastonbury Tor - where the Sea Kings tipped a wing in acknowledgment of the scores of people who climbed to the top of the 518ft hill to view the flypast.

The Sea King, which will be replaced by the Merlin MK4, will go out of service on March 31 2016 following a disbandment parade to be held this Wednesday at RNAS Yeovilton.

Commander Gavin Simmonite, the final commanding officer of 848 Naval Air Squadron, which is also to be disbanded, said: "The Sea King has been a wonderful workhorse.

"It is a great pleasure to fly and an aircraft that has created a thousand memories for the aircrews who have flown it and for those on the ground watching it go about its business. It just doesn't get any better."

The aircraft have seen service in most major theatres of conflict where British forces have been deployed since 1980 including the Falklands, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Navy spokesman said: "The mighty Sea King will also be remembered by many for its work with the United Nations in Bosnia and its humanitarian support work in the Lebanon, West Africa, Philippines and the Caribbean.   

"Although 848 Naval Air Squadron is to disband, the mantle and legacy of the Sea King will be picked up and carried forward by the Merlin, which is already in service with the Commando Helicopter Force."