Matlock Navy helicopter pilot helps fight Ebola

Photex of HLS in Sierra Leone and Merlin with US Engine
Photex of HLS in Sierra Leone and Merlin with US Engine

A helicopter pilot is flying vital aid to West Africa to help control the outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease.

Lieutenant Rich Beaumont, of Riber, Matlock, serves on the 820 Naval Air Squadron is piloting a Royal Navy Merlin helicopter across Sierra Leone in support of the armed forces’ fight against the illness.

Lt Beaumont has a variety of duties during a working day including flying heavy loads of supplies.

He said: “Flying with a large object hanging below the aircraft is tricky, not least because I can’t see it from the cockpit.

“Close cooperation with the aircrewman in the cargo door is essential.”

He also carries out takes such as transporting Army medical team members and their kit across country.

Lt Beaumont’s Merlin helicopter is one of three anti–submarine units that are usually based at the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, in Cornwall, which are currently being put to use in Africa as part of Operation Gritrock.

He is based on board Royal Fleet auxiliary Ship, RFA Argus, which is being used as a logistics hub for the task force made up of Naval Merlin Helicopters and Royal Marines Landing Craft, supporting the British Government’s Department for International Development’s work.

The recent Ebola outbreak was first identified in Guinea in March spread from there to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The World Health Organisation says there have been more than 13,200 cases reported in these countries.