RAF Sea King helicopters are progressively being withdrawn from rescue operations as the civilian replacements come into service

RAF Sea King helicopters are progressively being withdrawn from rescue operations as the civilian replacements come into service

A community group has succeeded in its bid to return a retired search and rescue helicopter in the area from which it operated for four decades.

The Morayvia group has secured an RAF Sea King Mark III, which will go on display at its base at Kinloss.

The helicopter flew hundreds of missions to rescue mountaineers, hillwalkers, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts since it began service in the area in the 1970s. The familiar yellow aircraft was withdrawn from service on 1 April when operations at RAF Lossiemouth were handed over to a civilian search and rescue service under the control of the Coastguard, based at Inverness.

Morayvia launched two online petitions urging the Ministry of Defence to allow it to buy one of the redundant helicopters.

Angie Dry of the Morayvia group said it was over the moon at securing the Sea King for the area. She thanked grough readers for supporting the move, saying: “This will have had an influence on the decision to award the contract and sale to Morayvia.

“We still have some way to go to raise the funds needed, estimated at £30,000 to include delivery, but the first hurdle has been jumped.”

She added she hoped the Sea King would go on display later this year at the Morayvia Centre. It is currently at Gosport in Hampshire. The group already has a Nimrod reconnaissance aeroplane which it rescued when the coalition Government decided to withdraw the aircraft from service and scrap it in 2010.

More details of the group are on the Morayvia website.

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