Sea King: Britain’s Flying Past

John Sergeant presents a brand new hour-long documentary on BBC TWO celebrating the Sea King helicopter as piloted by HRH Prince William. BBC Two, Thursday 28th February at 9pm.

On the back of last year’s critically acclaimed BBC TWO documentary about the Spitfire, passionate flying enthusiast and broadcaster John Sergeant returns to the channel this February continuing his celebration of British aviation excellence with a televisual love letter to another jewel in Britain’s flying past - the Sea King helicopter.

Once again reveling in his love of all things aeronautical, John, who is himself a former RAF Cadet, guides us through the story of this great aircraft and shares the powerfully emotional stories of the people whose lives it has touched over almost 50 years of service.

The Sea King is the true unsung hero of British aviation history. It has protected British troops through ten wars during over four decades of military and civilian service.

It has mounted a staggering 14,595 British search and rescue missions since Royal Navy records began in 1982 and more recently it has stirred pride in our hearts as the aircraft flown by HRH Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge in his role as a Search and Rescue pilot with the 22 Squadron covering Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Prince William says in the show:

"I'm incredibly proud to be amongst the Search and Rescue guys and very privileged to be flying with some of the best pilots, I think, in the world."

As its retirement draws near, Sea King: Britain’s Flying Past commemorates half-a-century of noble service with a 60-minute show packed with stunning footage of this mammoth yet graceful helicopter and featuring moving stories of heroism, bravery and flying excellence.

Riding shotgun with Royal Navy pilots from RNAS Yeovilton and also with 771 Squadron at RNAS Culdrose, John travels across the British landscape, relishing the power and grandeur of the aircraft.

John will also meet the men, women and children who have been saved from serious injury or death and the brave pilots who risk their own lives in order to save others.

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We learn about the sophisticated equipment on board and through archive we’ll begin to understand the pivotal role the Sea King has played in search and rescue at home and in the major wars of the past few decades.

Although in service for over fifty years, Sea Kings first captured the imagination of the British public in the Falklands in 1982.

Both at war and on civilian missions the herculean shape of the Sea King thundering across the skies like a prehistoric metal beast, always inspired feelings of fear and hope.

The Sea King always brought relief in one form or another: back-up troops, much needed supplies, rescue facilities, tracking radars.

This Bird has seen all types of duty in its history and in Sea King: Britain’s Flying Past the people who owe their lives and livelihoods to it tell us their moving and fascinating stories.

I'm incredibly proud to be amongst the Search and Rescue guys and very privileged to be flying with some of the best pilots, I think, in the world.

HRH Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge