Book Review

‘From Borneo to Lockerbie – memoirs of an RAF Helicopter Pilot’ written by Geoffrey Leeming was published in April 2013, and is available on and

In 1961 Geoffrey Leeming achieved his boyhood ambition to become an RAF pilot. After a period as co-pilot on the tanker variant of the Valiant bomber, a sudden change of circumstances resulted in most of his subsequent service flying being as a helicopter pilot. The helicopter most in use at this time was the Whirlwind, a good aircraft but of limited performance and lacking the technical aids enjoyed by later types of helicopters.

He next flew in the little-known Borneo Confrontation of the 1960s. Living in primitive jungle bases alongside loyal and friendly natives, the Whirlwind crews supported the land forces operating along the Indonesian border with long and hazardous flights over dense, frequently uncharted, jungle.

Most of the Author’s remaining helicopter service was in the Search and Rescue role, firstly from RAF Lossiemouth, then from RAF Valley, flying in the mountains and over the surrounding seas of the Scottish Highlands and Snowdonia. Many lives were saved by Geoffrey and his crewmen in weather conditions frequently exceeding the safety limits in which they were supposed to operate.

His final postings were as an instructor and as commander of the Search and Rescue Training Unit at Valley. This period culminated in his traumatic involvement in the immediate aftermath of the explosion of the Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie.

Geoff Leeming served with the RAF from 1961 to 1990 flying a wide range of aircraft including Valiant V-bombers in the Cold War but mainly in RAF helicopters. He is now retired and lives on Anglesey.

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