Flying Light Helicopters with the Royal Marines

Collective Tales From Marine Air 489

Robert Wilsey

Date Published :
September 2021
Publisher :
Air World
Illustration :
42 black and white illustrations & 3 black and white maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781399002509
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Little has been written about Royal Marines rotary aviation, the small and select unit which operated light helicopters between 1965 and 1995. Officer and senior non-commissioned officer pilots had the unique privilege of being both Commandos and aviators, flying from warships and operating ashore in support of the Royal Marines. Initially called Unit Air Troops, which then coalesced into 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron Royal Marines, they operated in hostile environments, including the Arctic, mountains, jungles and deserts.

Robert Wilsey served in the Royal Marines from 1969 to 2000. Having qualified as a pilot he served through much of the existence of the Royal Marines Air Squadron, from a junior pilot right up to becoming its commanding officer.

In this unique book, the author tells of the evolution and technological advances of Royal Marines aviation, flying the Westland Sioux, Scout, Gazelle, and, ultimately, Lynx helicopters. He describes the rigorous training undertaken, including flying from ships at sea, and of operating globally from Malta, Northern Ireland, the jungles of Brunei, the Pyrenees, Arctic Norway and, in 1991, Northern Iraq, protecting the Kurds during Operation Haven.

Colonel Wilsey also describes the challenges of the British military’s basic and advanced rotary flying training, from both a student’s and flying instructor’s perspectives. He explains the pressures of leading a flying display team and relates stories of accidents and incidents, many amusing, several chaotic and some tragic, previously unknown to the general public.

This is a vivid first-hand account of military rotary wing flying which will appeal to aircrew both civil and military, aviation enthusiasts and military historians.

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