Baby born aboard Sea King search-and-rescue helicopter

That’s going to make for some interesting form-filling when he gets older. Place of birth: Sea King helicopter.

Special delivery for Culdrose rescuers as baby is born mid-flight

For only the second time in the Fleet Air Arm’s history a baby was born in the back of a helicopter on a maternity mission.

Marcus Daniel McLachlan was born aboard a 771 NAS Sea King which was ferrying his mum to hospital in Truro from the Scilly Isles.

Special delivery for Culdrose rescuers as baby is born mid-flight.

Meet Marcus Daniel McLachlan, all 5lb 3oz of him, not two days old. Place of Birth: Sea King Rescue 193, two miles southeast of Truro – and 150ft above Cornish soil.

He’s thought to be only the second baby born in a Royal Navy helicopter in more than six decades of rotary wing flight – adding a bit of last-minute excitement to an otherwise fairly routine mission for the rescuers of 771 Naval Air Squadron.

The duty Sea King at the squadron’s base at Culdrose was scrambled just after 5pm on Tuesday to ferry Ella McLachlan, who’d just gone into labour on the tiny island of St Martin’s in the Scillies.

Aboard the Sea King to assist the expectant mother was midwife Sue Merritt from Helston Birthing Centre – which is standard practice for any such sorties.

Having picked up mum and dad Barney from St Martin’s (population 142), the helicopter headed for the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske, near Truro.

“I gave the crew a ‘10 minutes left to run’ heads up so they could prepare for arrival,” said pilot Flt Lt Jon Owen RAF.

“The midwife shouted back that baby was preparing for his own immediate arrival and that we needed to get ready to deliver in the air. I simply looked at the other pilot, Lt Paul Smalley, and we continued to fly as Mother Nature took over.”

Rescue 193’s observer Lt Cdr ‘Chuck’ Norris and pilot Flt Lt Jon Owen in their makeshift maternity ward.

In the back of the helicopter, observer Lt Cdr ‘Chuck’ Norris – who’s trained to deal with a whole range of medical emergencies – prepared for his first birth as he and aircrewman PO Gary Kneesh helped the midwife.

“It’s pretty uncommon to announce to the coastguard that you had launched with seven persons on board, but were preparing to land with eight!” said Chuck.

On arrival mum, dad and baby were quickly whisked away to the Royal Cornwall Hospital. All are doing well after the excitement of the journey.

“We thought we’d have a relaxing day. Then at the end of the afternoon Ella started feeling some cramps,” said Barney, a baker on the small island.

“We went to see the midwife for an examination and she confirmed Ella was in labour and that she needed to call Culdrose to pick us up.

“The Culdrose boys were immense, absolutely phenomenal. At one point they had to shine a light for Sue. They were hugely caring and brilliant. They always deliver and always look after us.”

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