As announced by the government in February of this year, the familiar yellow Sea King Helicopters are to be decommissioned as the Soteria Consortium takes over the role of running the rescue helicopters. Replacing the Sea Kings are a fleet of Sikorsky S92A craft, similar to ones used by the Coastguard in Scotland.
This development, deplored by many traditional hill goers used to the sight of the 'big yellow taxis', has left the military with a fleet of Sea King choppers and not much to do with them.
Step in UKClimbing.com and Rockfax.
"We really wanted to expand our databases and guidebook range to cover the whole globe" said Alan James, the big cheese, "but Chris Craggs is getting on a bit and didn't want to have to do all that much walking in order to get the relevant topo shots for the books." he added.
"We have negotiated a purchase of one of the ex-mountain rescue helicopters to assist with our mission to photograph every bit of rock on the planet." Alan explained.
The chopper has been specially kitted out with a mobile 'guidebook nerve-centre', which includes an old digital camera and a photocopier (because that's all it takes to make a guidebook). There is also a cheap netbook that we got off Ebay so Chris can update the UKC Logbooks as he flies around. He's going to get one of them dongle internet things too.
"I'm really enjoying riding the bird," said Craggsy. "My first trip was a success, I went to Beeston Tor (see Chris' Forum Report), but as there were no climbers there I couldn't test how easily they would get knocked off the rock by the down-draft. So I think the popular end of Stanage this weekend will be my next venture."
Chris is hoping to get his helicopter license soon, but for now is quite happy with L plates on and not carrying any pillion passengers.