A community group is seeking the help of outdoor enthusiasts to preserve a historic helicopter that has carried out numerous rescues on Scotland’s mountains.
The Morayvia charity wants to keep one of the familiar yellow RAF Sea King search and rescue aircraft at its Scottish base after it goes out of service at the end of March.
The group is trying to raise funds to buy the Lossimouth-based helicopter, but it has also launched a petition to persuade MoD bosses not send the aircraft for disposal.
A Morayvia spokesperson said: “The iconic yellow Sea King search and rescue helicopters will vanish from the skies over the UK from the end of March 2015 starting with the closure of the flight at RAF Lossiemouth.
“The two helicopters are destined to be flown south for disposal after which they will no longer be able to fly. If the Morayvia group are able to purchase one it would then have to be transported the length of the country by road back to its HQ at Kinloss which would be very costly.
“If we are successful the aircraft would join the Nimrod at our base and would be open for the public to see inside a helicopter which has saved countless lives and assisted in many emergencies. Let common sense prevail and keep a Sea King in Moray.”
The military Sea Kings which currently support the UK’s mountain rescue teams in many of their operations will be replaced by Sikorsky S-92s and Agusta Westland AW189s flying from new bases.
The new aircraft will be controlled by the Coastguard and will fly in its red and white livery. They are being provided by Texas-based Bristow in a £1.6bn contract over 13 years. A base at Inverness will provide cover for the area presently served by the Lossiemouth Sea Kings, with three AW189 helicopters.
Angie Dry of the Morayvia group said: “Many of your members might like to sign the petition as they themselves may well have called upon the assistance of the search and rescue facilities we have all enjoyed to date.
“We are not seeking your funds, simply a name on a petition in favour of retaining a Sea King in Scotland.”