Suffolk pilots in cliff face rescue

A HELICOPTER crew from a Suffolk airbase has played a vital part in a dramatic cliff face rescue.The RAF Sea King, stationed at Wattisham Airfield, was conducting a training exercise when it received a call for assistance.

A HELICOPTER crew from a Suffolk airbase has played a vital part in a dramatic cliff face rescue.

The RAF Sea King, stationed at Wattisham Airfield, was conducting a training exercise at the Gunfleet Sands wind farm about seven miles off the Essex coast when it received a call for assistance from the Dover Coastguard.

The call came in to the four-strong crew at about 3.30pm yesterday afternoon after a paraglider crash-landed halfway down a treacherous 350ft cliff face at Capel in Kent.

The man piloting the glider had become trapped in a canopy of trees and there were no apparent routes to safety.

B Flight 22 Squadron Sea King flight commander, Squadron Leader Richard Strookman, said the crew's excellent training meant it was a fairly routine winching exercise.

He said: “We located the canopy of his paraglider easily and he was in quite thick undergrowth, but with the help of the Coastguard we managed to locate him.

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“Then it was a straightforward winching exercise and got him aboard the aircraft and landed him, very appropriately, at the Battle of Britain memorial.

“He seemed to be in good spirits and very grateful. Maybe a little embarrassed, but we all make mistakes.”

Dover Coastguard at Langdon Cliffs co-ordinated the rescue, which also involved launches from Folkestone and Dover, paramedics and firefighters.

A Coastguard spokesman said the rescued man was “very lucky” to be alive and unharmed after running into trouble at a perilous spot.