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Harrogate Royal Navy pilot honoured for ‘outstanding airmanship and courage’

Lieutenant Commander Craig Sweeney

A North Yorkshire Royal Navy pilot has been awarded the Air Force Cross for grit, determination and courage - shown in his rescue of a climber in Argyll.

On December 18 2011, Lieutenant Commander Craig Sweeney, from Harrogate, led his search and rescue crew in what he later described as ‘one of the most challenging rescues’ he had ever undertaken.

In blizzard conditions, plummeting temperatures and pitch darkness, the team from HMS Gannet in Prestwick, Ayrshire, flew their Sea King Mark 5 helicopter to the aid of climber Dr Gareth Bradley, with a reported broken ankle.

The 3,074ft Beinn Sgulaird they flew to is 10 miles north east of Oban.

Dr Bradley, who now lives in Scotland, rescued the climber, who was in a precarious position near the 3,074ft summit and it was a race against time for the Prestwick-based Sea King helicopter in extreme conditions flying very close to the mountain’s rock face to recover him to safety.

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