For half a century, A Flight 22 Squadron has patrolled the North Devon skies and saved the lives of 6,000 people. Not a day has gone by in all that time without the RAF Search and Rescue team at Chivenor being on standby in readiness for an emergency. La
For half a century, A Flight 22 Squadron has patrolled the North Devon skies and saved the lives of 6,000 people. Not a day has gone by in all that time without the RAF Search and Rescue team at Chivenor being on standby in readiness for an emergency.Last week, the team threw open its doors to the media to celebrate its achievements.Flight Commander and Squadron Leader Olly Padbury, 32, said: "Having talked to people who used to serve on A Flight, you realise how the job has changed and how different it would have been 50 years ago."One of the major changes has been the use of night vision goggles and infra-red, which allow the crew to continue its search and rescue operations in the black of night and in the worst of weather. Since lauch on November 8, 1958, A Flight has scrambled 8,000 times and been involved in some of the most difficult and famous incidents on record. The most recent of these have included saving people from the floods in Boscastle in 2004 and those in Gloucester and South Wales last year. On these occasions, the crew had to fly long into the night enduring difficult weather conditions. The expertise and bravery of A Flight has earned it more than 150 awards for service, lifesaving and bravery both on the ground and in the air. These include 14 Air Force crosses and medals, a George Medal and 59 commendations. The bond between the crew is what makes it so special. When fog shrouds a cargo ship or cliff front, the pilot has to place his trust in the radar operator - who also controls the winch to lift casualties. "You build up a trust between the members of the crew. The bond we have is what makes us push ourselves as far as we do," said Olly.