The helicopter will act as a permanent reminder of the efforts of aircrew past and present

Commander Ian Fitter, Executive Commander of RNAS Culdrose

Currently, the helicopter is being worked on by Royal Navy Engineers, having had a new coat of paint thanks to the Culdrose ‘Spray Bay’ which is managed by Serco. 

The seven man team in the ‘Composite Repair Facility', of which the Spray Bay is a part, operate a garage with a difference, helping to ensure that airframes are fit to fly.   

The team has been working hard to get the Sea King ready for its public appearance in March.

Mark Thompson, who manages the section said, “My team has worked on the helicopter for a couple of weeks. Once we got our hands on the airframe, we sanded it down, re-primed it and then painted it back to its original state. 

It is always emotive when a Squadron decommissions, and it will be especially so when we say goodbye to 771. That is why I am so glad to have been involved in this project because of the impact that this aircraft has had on Cornwall and beyond.”  

Martin Hunt was responsible for ensuring that the aircraft was finished according to the original drawings. 

Martin said: “What we have done is just like re-spraying a car, but this vehicle is a bit bigger and a lot more important!  I have got a copy of the helicopter’s aircraft original drawings, and it was my job to make sure that the aircraft met that standard; everything from the paint colours, to the numbers and lettering.” 

24 year old apprentice Jessica Fry, in the first year of her training with SERCO said: “It has been such an honour to work on such an important aircraft.”

The aircraft XV673 conducted its first flight on 17 September 1970 and was delivered to Culdrose on 1 October 1970. 

It served on 826 Sqn/706 Sqn/824 Sqn/810 Sqn before eventually arriving on 771 Sqn on 10 April 2003.  

It will be placed on display following the 771 decommissioning service on 22 March.

771 Naval Air Squadron

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