This film is part of Free

Whirlwinds at RAF St Mawgan

RAF 22 Squadron provides air-sea rescue for the South West with new HAR 10 Whirlwind helicopters.

Current affairs 1962 3 mins

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Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Royal Air Force 22 Squadron provides air-sea rescue for the South West out of RAF St Mawgan with new HAR 10 Whirlwind helicopters with a coordination centre based in Plymouth. The search and rescue squadron’s (SAR) new Westland Whirlwinds are fitted with De Havilland Gnome gas turbine engines making them more manoeuvrable. Squadron Leader Gordon Verran is interviewed about the rise in incidents along the coastline and the response to civilian and military emergencies.

Trebelzue opened as a grass airfield in the 1930s and became a satellite field for RAF St Eval in 1941. The name of St Mawgan was adopted on 23 February 1943 with the building of new runways. RAF Coastal Command was based here during the Second World War and the station housed Polish refugees from 1947 before reopening in 1951. SAR teams initially were a pilot and a navigator/winchman who would be kitted in an immersion suit with a grabbit hook using a Bosun's Chair. This developed into a full SAR service run by the RAF and Royal Navy. Since 2018 air-sea search and rescue is carried out by private contractors. The runway at St Mawgan was sold to Cornwall County Council in 2008 and became Cornwall Airport Newquay.