RAF Valley-based Mountain Rescue Service personnel saw the Snowdonia mountains from a different viewpoint recently.

They were training with helicopters of the Valley-based 202 Squadron, part of the Defence Helicopter Flying School.

The MRS troops were gaining familiarisation with the new aircraft being operated by the Squadron to help them better perform in their role as ‘first responders’ to any military aircraft incident in the UK.

The RAF Mountain Rescue Service (MRS) was formed in 1943 to rescue downed airmen from difficult terrain across the UK.

After the war, the service was retained and today is formed into three teams in England (RAF Leeming), Scotland (RAF Lossiemouth) and Wales (RAF Valley). RAF Valley is also the Headquarters of the service.

Today, the MRS is the UK military’s only all-weather, year-round first response unit for all military aircraft emergencies.

The teams also respond to call-outs to help the civilian blue light services and civilian mountain rescue teams, and assist many people in difficulty each year from the mountains.

Chief technician Ben Wood, team leader for the RAF Valley team, said “Any hands-on experience we can get with military or civilian aircraft is extremely useful.

"Our core role is to respond quickly to an aircraft incident to save life and protect the site, and so working with 202 Squadron has been really helpful.”

The RAF Valley MRS troops were given a thorough grounding in the systems of the Juno and Jupiter helicopters operated by 202 Squadron, and joined them for a training sortie in the Snowdonia mountains, where the MRS train and operate on the ground.

Squadron Leader Ally McDowell, Officer Commanding 202 Squadron said:

“Our remit is to provide RAF and Navy pilots, observers and crewmen with a basic education in the challenges and skills required to operate over the sea, in the littoral environment and with marine craft, which includes how to safely hoist a winch man or, indeed, a survivor.

This foundation prepares them for the challenges they’ll face on the front line.

We also train in the mountains, and it’s reassuring to know that the RAF Mountain Rescue Team at Valley is on call 24 hours s day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to come to our assistance should we need them.”