The HMS Gannet crews have carried out numerous rescues in the UK's mountains. Photo: Royal Navy

The HMS Gannet crews have carried out numerous rescues in the UK's mountains. Photo: Royal Navy

Royal Navy search and rescue helicopter crew members will make a final fly-past of some of the scenes of their most daring operations this week.

Ben Nevis, Ben Lomond and the mountains of Glen Coe are among the places planned for a farewell flight of Sea King helicopters from HMS Gannet on Thursday.

The crews handed over responsibility for operations to civilian helicopters under the control of the Coastguard on 1 January. The Royal Navy is encouraging outdoor enthusiasts and other members of the public to wave off the helicopter heroes as they say so-long to Scotland.

Weather permitting the HMS Gannet helicopters plan to fly from their Ayrshire base at 10am, then over Loch Lomond about 10.45am, Crianlarich and Tyndrum, Glen Coe at 11am, Kinlochleven and then Lochaber for 11.40am, before heading out to Oban at 12.40pm. The flight will then cross to Callander, Stirling at 1.25pm and Edinburgh at 1.40pm before turning south-west to cross the M74 and back to Ayrshire.

Commanding officer of HMS Gannet, Lieutenant Commander Charlie Fuller, said: “Over the years HMS Gannet has enjoyed immense support from communities the length and breadth of Scotland. The fly-past is our chance to say farewell and hopefully people will come out to wave goodbye too.”

The planned route of Thursday's fly-past

The planned route of Thursday's fly-past

During 2015 HMS Gannet was the busiest search and rescue flight in the UK, completing more than 300 rescues. The unit also holds the record for the most rescues in one year when, in 2009, HMS Gannet conducted 447 rescues around the country. Many of the helicopters’ sorties were to support mountain rescue teams across western Scotland and northern England.

The 30 December events saw the duty crew, Lieutenant Commander Martin Lanni, Lieutenant Richie Lightfoot, Lieutenant James Bullock and Petty Officer Alan Speed rescue 10 people in Dailly near Girvan.

The crew avoided 120ft trees and racing currents to rescue the stricken passengers trapped on a bus caught in floodwaters. The crew worked until they risked running out of fuel before finally two other people were recovered by boat.

Their final day of operations was relatively routine in comparison, with a Gannet crew spending the morning flying a casualty from the Isle of Rùm to Glasgow University Hospital for further medical treatment and the afternoon helping police in the Invergarry area.

This marked the 313th job of the year and the final task by HMS Gannet. The final duty crew were commanding officer and Pilot Lieutenant Commander Charles Fuller, Pilot Lieutenant Commander Stuart Pike, Observer Lieutenant Commander Florry Ford and Aircrewman Chief Petty Officer Shaun Knights.

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