William's search-and-rescue base revealed as one of busiest in UK.
RAF VALLEY recently hit the headlines thanks to new recruit Prince William but figures published yesterday show it was already popular in its own right - as one of the UK's busiest rescue call-out centres.
Figures covering July to September this year, show the 22 Squadron, based on Anglesey, helped 104 people during 94 call-outs, an increase from the same period last year, when it rescued 68 people during 111 call-outs.
A spokesman for the team said it had carried analysis of call-outs and the number of people involved and said there was only a 1% difference in the figures compared to last year.
He said: "It's proving to be a reasonably busy year. Last year was particularly busy year.
"Last year the media speculated that it was because more people were 'staycationing', taking their holidays in the UK rather than abroad."
He said the team has not looked into why the numbers of people requiring assistance from RAF Valley has increased but said research by North Wales Police's Mountain Safe scheme had found that many of those who needed rescuing were visitors from the south east of England.
RAF Valley rescued the most people in one go on August 1, when a Sea King helicopter rescued 11 people from a hill near Aberdovey.
The spokesman said the incident involved a group of French tourists - orthodox Jews wearing traditional clothes - who had to be rescued because they were not adequately dressed for the conditions.
Between July and September, crews from RAF Valley travelled an average of 31 nautical miles to call-outs, with incidents requiring an average of one hour and 28 minutes of flying time.
An RAF Valley spokesman said: "Traditionally this is a less busy time of year, October's a quiet month for us, we're coming to the end of the summer madness season.
"The summer months are very busy , with a lot of people in the water and on the hills.
"Winter tends to be busy as well, it brings out the more adventurous types wanting to do a bit of ice climbing or walking in the snow, wanting to see the peaks in their winter splendour."
During the summer the RNLI lifeboat stations on Anglesey received fewer calls in June, July and August, down from 128 to 94.
A spokeswoman said: "Even though the poor weather could have affected the number of call-outs, there isn't a specific reason why the RNLI lifeboat stations on Anglesey weren't as busy this year compared to 2009."
In the rest of Wales, Welsh and Manx RNLI lifeboats were requested to launch by HM Coastguard 585 times during the period, while the charity's lifeguards responded to 992 incidents (including rescues, first aid and lost children).
RAF Chivenor, which covered incidents in South and Mid Wales, was less busy in July to September this year than the previous year, helping 75 people during 108 call outs compared to 117 during 135 call outs in 2009.
Crews from the base in Barnstaple, in Devon, travelled an average of 33 nautical miles to call outs, with incidents requiring an average of one hour and two minutes of flying time.
The figures mostly pre-date Prince William joining the crew at RAF Valley as a helicopter pilot. Flt Lieut Wales began active service with the RAF Search and Rescue Force last month after what he called a "challenging" training course at the base.
After a series of training flights, the second-in-line to the throne took part in his first rescue on October 2, as co-pilot of an RAF Sea King helicopter that was scrambled to an offshore oil rig in Morecambe Bay to evacuate a man who had suffered a heart attack.
Prince William will spend three years as a front line Search and Rescue pilot.
Prince William during his pilot training at RAF Valley
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|Publication:||Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Nov 6, 2010|
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