The Prince Philip Helicopter Rescue Award

Awarded to an individual member of a helicopter crew, a complete crew or the crews of multiple helicopters, for an act of outstanding courage or devotion to duty in the course of land or sea search and rescue operations.


2020 Awarded to: Crew of Royal Air Force of Oman Rescue 01 - Lieutenant Commander George Thompson RN, Mulazim 1 Tay Mahmood, Wakeel 2 Jaw Yaqoob, Raqeeb Jaw Ibrahim


On 18 October 2019, Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) Super Lynx helicopter, callsign ‘Rescue 01’ was tasked to recover five trapped mountaineers, one of whom was unconscious, from an Oman mountain ridge-line that was in excess of 5000ft. Of note, a Rescue Mission flown by a Royal Omani Police helicopter had proved unsuccessful in extracting the mountaineers from the challenging location before sunset, leading to the night-capable RAFO Search and Rescue helicopter being assigned the task. 

PPHThe crew launched on Night Vision Goggles and transited to the Search Area. This was a ridge-line within a bowl of mountains which made even the recce a demanding task. After a comprehensive discussion amongst the crew, a non-standard, contour-hugging approach was identified as the only viable way in which a rescue could be attempted. Due to the operating height, wind direction, turbulence and power limitations, the helicopter was positioned facing into the mountainside in order to maintain sufficient visual cues, rather than keeping a more standard, and preferential, flyaway option to deal with any sudden engine failure.

With the rotor blades maintaining a minimum of 10ft away from the mountain side during the 40-minute winching phase, a crewman was deployed to assess the casualty and situation of the mountaineers. One of the climbers was regularly dropping in and out of consciousness and consequently a stretcher-lift was initially required, before the remaining mountaineers were recovered. Throughout the rescue and during the critical winching phase, the crew repeatedly encountered significant turbulence and changes in wind direction whilst having to operate a helicopter close to its operating limits in terms of height, weight and temperature with the additional consideration of approaching a critical fuel state. Working superbly well as a crew and with exemplary leadership and aircraft handling being shown by the Captain, all the mountaineers were rescued from their precarious location and returned to Musana Airbase where they were handed over for further medical attention.

This difficult rescue highlighted just how capable a multi-national operating crew, in this case from the UK and Oman, can be even when operating under the most challenging of circumstances. This rescue demonstrated exemplary handling and flying of the aircraft as well as utter professionalism and outstanding teamwork from the crew, which together resulted in the successful rescue of five civilians. The fact this happened at night, whilst operating throughout on Night Vision Goggles, at heights in excess of 5000ft in high temperatures, with limited aircraft power settings and turbulent wind conditions makes it all the more noteworthy. The crew of RAFO ‘Rescue 01’ are collectively thoroughly deserving winners of the Prince Philip Helicopter Rescue Award.



Previous Winners:

1978/79  Captain G Bain, Captain C C Bosanquet, Captain A Campbell, B Johnstone Esq

1979/80 Flt Lt R E Neville, Flt Lt M J Lakey, Flt Sgt J K Moody, Flt Sgt C M Yarwood

1980/81 Master Air Loadmaster David Edward Bullock GC (posthumously)

1981/82 Lieutenant Commander H S Clark 825 Squadron

1982/83 Wessex MK3 of HMS Antrim Flight - Lieutenant Commander I Stanley DSO, Lt C J Parry, Sub Lt S Cooper, PO Aircrewman D B Fitzgerald

1983/84 PO Aircrewman John Stephen Coleman

1984/85 Joint Award to 826 N.A.S (Sea King) and HMS Endurance (WASP)

1985/86 Lieutenant D Marr, POACMN M C Palmer, POACMN L Slater

1986/87  WO1 I D Johnstone AAC & Sgt D I Lewis REME

1987/88  Jeff Todd Esq

1988/89  Flight Sergeant Vaughan Dodsworth AFM RAF

1989/90  PO Aircrewman S W Wright, PO Aircrewman D S Wallace

1990/91  Flight Lieutenant D Kerr-Sheppard RAF, Flight Lieutenant D G Gow RAF, MAEOP M R Cornes, MALM W Payne

1992  Not Awarded

1992/93  772 Naval Air Squadron Helicopter - Lieutenant M I P Langley, POACM A Rogers, LACMN B Buggins

1993/94  Flight Sergeant Chris J Wood

1994/95  The Crew of Rescue 169: Flight Lieutenant A Cooper, Flight Lieutenant M Dennis, Flight Lieutenant G Holmes, Flight Sergeant P Trethewey

1995/96  Rescue 25, 78 Squadron, Falkland Islands: Flight Lieutenant M Dennis, Flight Lieutenant T Gear, Flight Sergeant Larke, Sergeant S Labouchardiere

1996/97  Rescue 193 from RNAS CULDROSE - Lieutenant B J Nicholas, Lieutenant J M Collicutt, Lieutenant G P Norris, POACM P J Warrington, LACM R W McKee

1997/98  Posthumously for William (Bill) Deacon

ALSO:  A special award to: Crews 03, 06 and 10 of Sea Flight 810 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Station, Culdrose

1998/99  The Crew of the Bell 412 Helicopter VH-CFT of Careflight

1999/2000  The helicopter pilots and crew of the South African Air Force

2000/01 Crew of HMS Montrose

             Flight Sergeant Trevor Thompson AFC

2001/02  Crew of the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter - Peter Yates, Dr Michael Novy, Tim Thistleton, Matthew Scott, Paul Featherstone

2002/03  'Rescue 137' D Flight No 202 Squadron, RAF Lossiemouth

2003/04 Rescue 193 RN

2004/05  Rescue 193 (Boscastle)

2005/06  Rescue 193 of 771 Naval Air Squadron

2006/07  Crew of 'Rescue 901' 442 Squadron CAF

              Hong Kong Government Flying Service

2007/08  HMS GANNET SAR FLIGHT 'Rescue 177'

             'BLACKOUT 26' 7 Sqn RAF

2008/09   Crew of "Rescue 193" of 771 Naval Air Squadron

2009/10   Crew of R902, 442 Sqn Canadian Air Force

2010/11   "HMS Chatham" Lynx - 226 Flt, 815 NAS

2011/12  Crew of Rescue 193 Naval Air Squadron: Lieutenant Commander Mike Luscombe RN, Captain Martin Roskilly RM, Lieutenant Jason "Tom" Sawyer RN, Sergeant Anthony Russell RM

2012/13 Rescue 912, 103 SAR Sqn RCAF: Captain Aaron Noble, Captain Jon Groten, Master Warrant Officer Jeff Warden, Sergeant Brad Hiscock, Master Corporal Mark Vokey

2013/14 Rescue 193 771 Naval Air Squadron: Lieutenant Commander Richard Calhaem RN, Lieutenant Commander Paul Robertson RN, Kapitanleutnant Steffen Volkwein and  POACMN Russell Adams

2014/15 Crew OF ‘RESCUE 177’, HMS GANNET SAR FLIGHT -  Lieutenant Commander Charles Fuller RN, Lieutenant Meirion Hammond RN, Lieutenant Angela Lewis RN and Petty Officer Aircrewman Michael Henson

2016  Crew of United States Coast Guard Rescue 6033 - Lieutenant John Hess USCG, Lieutenant Matthew Vanderslice USCG,  AMT2 Derrick Suba USCG, AST3 Evan Staph USCG

         Crew of HMS Gannet SAR Flight  R 177 - Lieutenant Commander Martin Lanni AFC RN, Lieutenant Richard Lightfoot RN, Lieutenant James Bullock RN, Petty Officer Aircrewman Alan Speed

2017  Crew of HM Coastguard Rescue 951 Inverness  Captain Simon Tye (Commander), Captain James Livitt (Co-pilot), Mark Lean (Winch Operator Paramedic) and Scott Sharman (Winchman Paramedic)

         Crew of HM Coastguard Rescue 912 Humberside Captain Peter Mackenzie-Brown (Commander), Senior First Officer Rob Backus (Co-pilot), Winch Operator Paul Bramley and Winchman/Medic Kate Willoughby

2018 The Hong Kong Government Flying Service

2019  Caernarfon Rescue 936: Captain Kate Simmonds, Captain Dave Kenyon AFC, Winch Operator Richard Taylor QGM and Winchman Paramedic Alistair Drumond

2020  Crew of Royal Air Force of Oman Rescue 01 - Lieutenant Commander George Thompson RN, Mulazim 1 Tay Mahmood, Wakeel 2 Jaw Yaqoob, Raqeeb Jaw Ibrahim