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HM Coastguard Helicopter Crew Receives International Award After Tower Rescue

October 17, 2018

HM Coastguard’s search and rescue (SAR) helicopter crew from Lee-on-Solent, on the south Hampshire coast, has received a major industry award recognising the successful recovery of a group of visitors trapped on landmark tower overlooking the English Channel.

Captain Simon Tye, Captain Simon Hoare, Winch Operator Chris Hughes, and Winchman Paramedic Alf Kitwood received the Goodrich Hoist Award at Helitech International 2018, one of the world’s largest helicopter aviation events, in Amsterdam on Monday.

They received widespread public recognition in September 2017, after being called out to rescue 13 visitors – including an eight-month-old baby – who were trapped when the rotating viewing platform on the Jurassic Skyline tower in Dorset became stuck, 180ft off the ground.

In one of the most technically challenging SAR missions in recent memory the crew, flying in a Leonardo AW189 SAR aircraft, airlifted the visitors to safety in small groups, as part of a multi-agency response following the failure of the tower’s systems.

Bristow Helicopters Limited operates the UK SAR helicopter service on behalf of HM Coastguard with state-of-the-art helicopters, equipped with the latest search and rescue technology including night vision, mission management and increased onboard medical capabilities.

Damien Oliver, Aviation Programme Director at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: “This mission demonstrates the wide range of tasks our helicopters are asked to support. Far from the traditional view the public may have of the work of our search and rescue helicopters, this unique mission showed quite how versatile Her Majesty’s Coastguard helicopter service is.”

Nick Horst, Chief Crewman at Lee-on-Solent, who nominated his colleagues for the award, said: “There was a very high degree of skill involved in this rescue, it was evident very early on that this was going to be no routine call-out.

“The team had to cope with a very high hover and winching height, in fading light, for almost four hours. In a hugely challenging set of circumstances, including more than two hours of winching time, the crew successfully brought the group of very frightened people safely back to land.

”Their trust in each other, the aircraft and equipment – in particular the winch – are a superb example of their dedication to achieving the incredibly high standards which UKSAR crews across the country strive to meet.”

The Lee-on-Solent base on the Hampshire coast is operated by a team of 31, and was the first to bring the new AW189 aircraft into service for HM Coastguard in 2017. The Leonardo AW189 is the latest generation helicopter in its category, designed to meet long-range, high endurance requirements for search and rescue missions in the most demanding operational and environmental conditions.

Bristow began operating the UK’s SAR helicopter service on behalf of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) in 2015, after winning the tender in 2013.

For further information please contact:
Maritime and Coastguard Agency Press Office:
02380 329401

Bristow Helicopters Communications:
01224 211045

About HM Coastguard
The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) is a frontline delivery and emergency response organisation which is part of the Department for Transport.

Part of the MCA is HM Coastguard, which provides a UK-wide maritime emergency prevention and response capability which responds to calls for help by radio, satellite or the 999 service and coordinates maritime search and rescue (SAR) within the UK SAR region. The agency helps approximately 25,000 people each year with 21,000 incidents coordinated by its rescue centres.

About Bristow Helicopters Ltd
Bristow Helicopters Ltd is the provider of helicopter search and rescue (SAR) services in the UK, on behalf of Her Majesty's Coastguard, having been awarded the UK SAR contract and the Gap SAR contract for Northern Scotland. Bristow Helicopters has a long history of providing world class SAR services, beginning in 1971 at RAF Manston, and has flown more than 60,000 SAR operational hours in the UK and conducted over 15,000 SAR missions, during which more than 7,000 people have been rescued by Bristow crews and helicopters. For more information on Bristow’s SAR operations, please visit

Bristow Helicopters Ltd. has served the offshore oil transport industry in the UK for nearly 60 years. Bristow Helicopters Ltd. is an affiliated company of Bristow Group Inc.

About Bristow Group
Bristow Group Inc. is the world’s leading industrial aviation service provider offering helicopter transportation, search and rescue (SAR) and aircraft support services to government and civil organizations worldwide. Bristow’s strategically located global fleet supports operations in the North Sea, Nigeria and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico; as well as in most of the other major offshore oil and gas producing regions of the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia and Trinidad. Bristow provides SAR services to the private sector worldwide and to the public sector for all of the U.K. on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. To learn more, visit our website at