Bimbling through the delightful Oxfordshire countryside earlier today, having had a wonderful few days with good friends Daundering in the Chilterns, I heard the quite distinctive sound of a Sea King helicopter.
I knew I wasn’t lost, nor was I in need of rescue so I was quite satisfied it wasn’t looking for me. My emotions were really quite mixed: I’m really miffed that the government has privatised Search and Rescue. It can only be a matter of time before those unfortunate enough to need a helicopter rescue will be invoiced for their folly.
I know the Sea Kings are well past their sell-by date, but in their time they’ve saved many, many lives – military (their prime purpose) and civilian. They’re quite a magnificent machine, crewed by even more magnificent personnel.
Now I’m not the brightest of people, but I fail to understand why a service that was designed to save military personnel lost in action at sea (and other places) shouldn’t be run by the Ministry of Defence – ie the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.
The S.A.R. crews have gained invaluable experience answering calls to rescue those at sea or in the mountains. I can’t see any commercial outfit being anywhere near as dedicated, skilled or experienced – not unless they can turn a decent profit.
Surely our caring government can’t be putting money before saving lives. Can they?
This morning’s Sea King was returning to RAF Benson. I wonder how many more sorties it will fly before being scrapped.