RAF Lossiemouth's Mountain Rescue Team is marking the 70th anniversary of a disaster that changed the course of its rescue efforts.
On 13 March 1951, the Lancaster TX 264 crashed down into the remote summit of Beinn Eighe in Scotland but was not located for a further three days – part of a recovery operation lasting several weeks.
Eight crew members had died, but the recovery had required support from a Royal Marine Mountain Leader with the winter climbing skills required to navigate the terrain.
As a result, training for the RAF Mountain Rescue Team was adapted to include these skills on future operations.
Due to COVID-19 deployment restrictions, the team has been unable to travel to the crash site, where remaining parts now serve as waypoints to mountaineers.
Instead of climbing the gully, the rescue group trained at RAF Lossiemouth to mark the event.
RAF Lossiemouth Mountain Rescue Deputy Team Leader, Sergeant Ali Beer said: "It's a shame we can't climb the gully this year. It is an important part of RAF Mountain Rescue history and our training.
"This is when we remember our past and focus on being able to conduct Aircraft Post Crash Management in any terrain or weather. However, we understand the importance of adhering to restrictions."
The team is only able to deploy on operations, as a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The crash site still contains large amounts of wreckage and forms a very atmospheric winter climb known as Fuselage Gully," said Sgt Beer.
"On the climb the mountaineers navigate through parts of the wreck. Further wreckage can be found at the foot of the mountain where a plaque to the crew was laid by the team.
"We look forward to being able to take our newest members on this challenging climb in the future."
Cover image: A plaque that had been laid by Mountain Rescue Team and visited in November 2020 (Picture: RAF).