Jerry Grayson became the youngest helicopter pilot serving in the Royal Navy, aged just 17. By 25 he was the most decorated peacetime naval pilot.
Rescue Pilot is his story, with a foreword by HRH The Duke of York, Prince Andrew.


This book by Jerry Grayson, who became the youngest Search and Rescue pilot at the age of just 17 and went on to have a remarkable aviation career within both the Royal Navy and also the film industry, acts as a reminder of the bravery and selflessness of the crews who put their lives at risk to save others.

Leadership, teamwork and training are the key to success in many fields of endeavour and Search and Rescue flying is just such an endeavour that requires these skills and I know from my own service the importance of all three in creating an effective helicopter crew.

Reading this book I am also reminded of the undeniably strong camaraderie of aviators as well as the wonderful sense of humour that arises in the face of adversity. In recording and celebrating this invaluable work of Search and Rescue, I am certain that this book will be an inspiration for the next generation of pilots.


Prince Andrew

The Book

Chapter One
A Greek Play – The rescue, after an interminable wait, of the crew of the ‘Skopelos Sky’; a wreck that can still be dived on in North Cornwall.

Chapter Two
The Mighty Ark – Operations aboard the aircraft carrier HMS ARK ROYAL in the time of the cold war.

Chapter Three
Admirals – Comedic encounters with the highest ranking naval officers, often with no good outcome for either party.

Chapter Four
Submarines – trying to destroy them, trying to save the men aboard them and trying to save others from them.

Chapter Five
Conduct Unbecoming – How Jerry’s naval career very nearly came to a premature end.

Chapter Six
The Disappearing Hunter – The mystery of an RAF jet that crashed and almost vanished without trace.

Chapter Seven
Grand Prix – A very public embarrassment at the British Grand Prix, followed by a change in the rules of Formula One motor racing.

Chapter Eight
‘Where are we going?’ – How even the best drop the ball when not paying full attention to the detail.

Chapter Nine
Summer Days, Doctors and Displays – it only takes one small joke to go wrong and suddenly a pilot is flying blind.

Chapter Ten
A Pleasant Surprise – Jerry’s first award for gallantry.

Chapter Eleven
A Bad Decision – It takes a loss of lives to change the politics.

Chapter Twelve
A Cow Called Jerry – from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Chapter Thirteen
‘What race?’ – Fastnet 1979, the race that changed the course of yacht design and the three day rescue that resulted in an Air Force Cross for Jerry.

Chapter Fourteen
Fastnet Revisited – Voices I never thought I would hear again.

Chapter Fifteen
Civvy Street – The transition from two gold rings to four.

Chapter Sixteen
Transplant – A new way of saving a life and the shock of seeing how its done.

Chapter Seventeen
Breaking Things – Suffering the one failure that all helicopter pilots dread.

Chapter Eighteen
Emma – When the casualty is a friend and you still can’t save her.