‘Not another helicopter story dad!’
There we were in a perfect arctic huddle on a remote hill side in southern Dartmoor waiting for the aircraft.
We heard the rotor noise and the helicopter landed amidst a flurry of dead grass. In no time at all we had the thumbs up and were walking towards the helicopter for our training flight. Rather than the Maritime and Coastguard Agency or an air ambulance aircraft this time it was a Royal Navy Merlin from 846 squadron RNAS Yeovilton. It was on a familiarisation flight in preparation for the Ten Tors event in May and they wanted some friendly Dartmoor Rescue team members to train with. Our group consisted of members of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Ashburton) and from our sister team Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Plymouth).
Ten Tors for those who don’t know is an annual event on Dartmoor which is organised and checkpoint per by the military where 2,400 teenage children aged between 15 and 18 walk 35,45 or 55 miles over two days and have a wild overnight camp in the middle. It’s a real challenge for the young people as they are unsupported by adults with the best teams training for the 5 months leading up to the event.
The role of the four Dartmoor Rescue teams is to provide rescue cover and should the situation arise the Royal Navy Merlins are on standby as air assets to support a serious casualty evacuation.
Back to our flight and sadly it was cut short due to low cloud, it was Dartmoor after all, but we still had a great opportunity to train with the Royal Navy crew in preparation for May. The shortened flight meant surprisingly I was home for tea which isn’t usually the case on MR events. While eating with my family I enthused about my exciting flight and and was humbled by the response of one of my teenagers who looked up, grunted and said ‘not another helicopter story dad’ and returned uninterested to his food.
Hill Party Leader
Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Ashburton)
All photo credits: Roger, DSRT Plymouth. Thanks Roger