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Former Vice Admiral Supot Pruksa, whose nephew died for lack of rescue

Phuket Islands Likely to Gain Helicopter Rescue Pads

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
PHUKET: The Royal Thai Navy hopes to have a rescue helicopter landing pad ready to operate on Racha island, to the south of Phuket, next month, a meeting heard yesterday.

Paitoon Panchaiyabhum, of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre, told the gathering at Rawai municipal offices in southern Phuket that the Navy plans to have helicopter pads approved for other islands off Phuket.

Access for helicopters would enable the speedy rescue of tourists and residents who suffered accidents or health issues in remote places, Khun Paitoon said.

There were times when helicopters could fly even if heavy seas prevented vessels from putting to sea, he added.

The helicopter rescue pads were the brainchild of former Vice Admiral Supot Pruksa, who headed Royal Thai Navy 3, which has bases on Phuket and in Phang Nga, back in 2008.

What is not well known is that his plan for the helicopter pads sprang from a personal tragedy. His nephew, a young man on a navy exercise, died for want of assistance in tragic circumstances where the weather prevented his rescue.

A helicopter pad may have saved his life. National Parks officials have so far resisted the idea of putting helicopter pads on the Similans and Surin island, far more remote from Phuket than Racha.

One of Vice Admiral Supot's activities was in setting up a beachfront navy office in Patong, where about 20 sailors were at one stage available on a daily basis to help tourists if required.

Phuketwan has suggested that Royal Thai Navy officers should patrol Patong beach and intervene in disputes between jet-ski operators and tourists, taking the workload off Phuket's under-resourced police.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Cart before the horse. What is needed first is a properly equipped rescue helicopter with fully trained crew. If one was to exist, I have my doubts, it would not need a landing pad to effect rescue. Sydney - Hobart yacht race comes to mind as well as many other rescues world wide.

Posted by interested observer on May 29, 2012 13:27


The idea is great agree with interested observer, has thailand the infrastructure the trained crews the ground support and the budget, helicoptors are expensive commodititys to purchase and operate id like to be wrong but this may prove be be wishful thinking.

Posted by traveller on May 29, 2012 20:44

Editor Comment:

The Navy has done a good job with some aerial rescues. In any case, 'interested observer' has the cart before the horse. The most important piece of equipment is the helicopter. Equipping it properly comes second. There is no likelihood of the establishment of a specialist service of the kind found in rich countries.

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