Flying Light Helicopters with the Royal Marines (Hardback)
Collective Tales From Marine Air 489
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 numerous incidents and accidents, many amusing, several chaotic and some tragic.
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.
The author served in the Royal Marines from 1969 to 2000, qualifying as a pilot and eventually becoming the Commanding Officer of its only Air Squadron. He thus flew globally in support of the Marines Commando operations, and this book is a series of collective tales, covering his initial training, operating from ships at sea, in the jungles of Borneo and the Arctic etc. All is told with dashes of humour and in an immersely readable style that is difficult to put down. The result - Highly Recommended…Helicopter International - Volume 43, Number 01, 12th January 2022
Over a long and distinguished flying career the Author kept detailed records of every aspect of operating the military helicopters he flew. In this book he shares a very readable and full account of his time in Royal Marines' aviation - from flying training, to the realities of operations in some of the harshest and most demanding of flying conditions (arctic, maritime, mountain and jungle), and finally what it was like to be in command during Operation Haven in Iraq.Alastair Rogers
For anyone interested in military light helicopter operations generally this is a very good and informative read, but it also forms a fitting tribute to those that served at that time, especially in 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron.
"This is the most definitive and well-written account I have ever read of military helicopter flying. Superb."Amazon Review
As featured inAeroplane Monthly
Well written book, of a life well lived. If you ever wanted to know more about a career in the Royal Marines flying helicopters, this is a great read.Amazon Review
Featured byRoyal Aeronautical Society
Throughout the book, the author provides a fascinating journey through 31 years as a Royal Marine aviator which will appeal to all who are interested in aviation and I can say, without hesitation, this is one of the best books I have read in recent years.Richard K Parkhurst, IPMS Portsmouth
Very Highly recommended.
The Indonesian Confrontation that raged from 1963 to 1966 stemmed from Indonesia’s opposition to the creation of Malaysia. Fighting in the challenging jungle terrain of Borneo and in the countryside straddling the Malaysia/Indonesia border, where there were few roads, posed significant logistical challenges to both sides. That the conflict was ultimately a victory for the Commonwealth forces was in due in no small part to the fact that they enjoyed the advantage of vastly superior helicopter resources and better trained crews – many of which were provided by British units. During the Confrontation,…By David Taylor
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