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Flying Light Helicopters with the Royal Marines (Hardback)

Collective Tales From Marine Air 489

Aviation Post WWII Aviation Memoirs

By Col Robert Wilsey
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 304
Illustrations: 42 black and white illustrations & 3 black and white maps
ISBN: 9781399002509
Published: 1st September 2021

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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.

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About Col Robert Wilsey

ROBERT WILSEY served for 31 years as an officer in the Royal Marines as both an infantry commander and aviator. He was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air for N Iraq and the United States Legion of Merit. After retiring from the Royal Marines, Colonel Wilsey worked for nine years for a US aerospace company, following which he ran his own avionics consultancy business. Recently retired, he is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Robert has written over 50 articles on aviation, military history and early breech-loading military rifles and is the author of two books on antique firearms. He and his wife live on the Welsh borders and have two grown-up children.

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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,…

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