News story

First female RAF search and rescue commander

In recognition of International Women's Day on 8 March, we are profiling women making their mark in the Armed Forces.

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Group Captain Sara Mackmin, RAF Search and Rescue Force Commander [Picture: Senior Aircraftwoman Faye Storer, Crown copyright]

Group Captain Sara Mackmin is the new commander of the RAF Search and Rescue Force

One of the Armed Forces’ top female aviators has recently taken command of the RAF’s Search and Rescue Force.

High-flying 44-year-old, Group Captain Sara Mackmin, will oversee all RAF search and rescue operations across the UK and the Falkland Islands.

The appointment is Group Captain Mackmin’s latest groundbreaking move in a career that has seen her achieve a number of firsts in the RAF.

After serving in the Balkans flying Puma helicopters she became the UK’s first female helicopter instructor and in 2000 was the first female to command an operational flying unit as a squadron leader.

In 2008 she repeated the feat as a Wing Commander.

Speaking after her RAF Search and Rescue Force appointment Group Captain Mackmin said:

I was delighted to be asked to command a force that makes a real difference to people’s lives on a daily basis and to be able to work with such a dedicated and professional cadre of people, both military and civilian.

She takes up the position as the UK military prepares to transfer the search and rescue service to the Department for Transport. She added:

I am in no doubt about the challenges ahead as we prepare to transfer the UK’s search and rescue service to a new provider and look forward to helping ensure a smooth transition.

Group Captain Mackmin has served 3 staff tours with MOD and worked as the personal staff officer to the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff.

As well as being a search and rescue pilot, she also volunteers with the RAF’s mountain rescue teams.

International Women’s Day celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

This story features on the International Women’s Day 2013 interactive map, where you can find lots more news about remarkable women from the UK and around the world.

Published 7 March 2013