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David Thomson
Honour for Lossiemouth RAF rescue Helicopter man

On 3 July 2012, there was a tragic air accident when two Tornados from 15 squadron RAF Lossiemouth collided in dense fog and crashed into the sea in the Moray Firth. A rescue helicopter from Lossiemouth went immediately to the scene of the accident and spotted two men in a liferaft. Winch operator MACR Graham Mavering of helicopter Rescue 137, directed his winchman and the pilots through a maelstrom of sea spray, debris and tangled parachute lines towards a dinghy containing a Tornado airman who had ejected from one of the crashed planes.

After the first airman was successfully winched aboard the helicopter Mavering then repeated the rescue exercise to recover a second airman he had spotted in the water. The helicopter pilots could not see the men owing to the spray and the tangled debris.

Both men were then flown to Raigmore hospital at Inverness, for emergency treatment. One of the airmen died later, but the other was able to recover.

The crash caused the death of the two other airmen in the second plane which appeared to have sunk before either of them could eject.

A further search was made the following day for the missing pilots, with three lifeboats involved. The lifeboats were from Wick, Invergordon and Buckie. Sadly they were unable to find any survivors. At RAF Lossiemouth, Group Captain Ian Gale confirmed with great regret, the loss of two Tornado GR4 aircraft. The planes were on a routine training sortie when the accident occurred.

At the annual SAR Force dinner earlier this May, MACR Mavering was presented with RAF Deputy Commanderís Commendation for his skill and coolness during the entire rescue procedure. A spokesman said that Maveringís support to the rescued men, continued long after the operation concluded, and this proved beneficial to the less experienced members of the crew.

Ref : Royal Air Force News 24 May 1013. Pictures below from RAF Lossiemouth.

Tornado jets at Lossiemouth


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