Decommissioned Sea King Helicopter XZ593 flew through the Falkland skies in grand style on Saturday, 14th January 2017. The iconic yellow Sea Kings are thought of with great affection by many Falkland Islanders. People turned out in force for the day of celebrations marking the culmination of efforts behind her donation by the Ministry of Defence to the Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust.
To the delight of watching residents and visitors to the Falkland Islands, she travelled as the underslung load of a Chinook Helicopter from Mount Pleasant. The Sea King journeyed past Victory Green in brilliant sunshine en route to Stanley airport, ready for the brief but momentous handover ceremony. Mr Richard Cockwell OBE took receipt of the Sea King from Commander of British Forces South Atlantic Islands, Commodore Darren Bone, who officially handed over the Sea King on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.
In his speech, CBFSAI Commodore Darren Bone commented with evident pleasure on how entirely appropriate it was for the Sea King to find her final home in the Falkland Islands, given the integral role of Sea Kings, both in the 1982 Conflict and with the RAF Search and Rescue Service, maintaining the safety of Falkland Islanders over the years:
“The yellow sea King has been a demonstrable link between the British Forces South Atlantic Islands and the Islanders and reflects the close co-operation and interaction that continues between the two communities. It is fitting that this aircraft should stay in the Falkland Islands.”
Along with the Sea King, Commodore Bone also handed Richard Cockwell OBE the Sea King’s flight manifest log and a framed photograph of the Sea King in action. These are for inclusion in the Museum and National Trust’s collection and will provide visitors with an accessible means of engaging with the Sea King whilst she awaits permanent display with the Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust.
Richard Cockwell, Chairmen of Trustees for the Falkland Island Museum and National Trust, said he was utterly delighted to accept the gifted Sea King on behalf of the Museum and the Falkland Islands:
“We hope that it will be the catalyst for bringing to life our new exhibition hall in Stanley big enough to display XZ593 alongside many other larger exhibits which are currently in storage.”
Both the Sea King and Chinook were made available after the handover ceremony for people to look inside and experience first hand. The smiles on faces both young and old made it clear that this was a real highlight of the day.