The Son San Joan-based 801 search and rescue squadron of the Spanish airforce yesterday celebrated 75'000 flying hours. Sources at Son San Joan air base said yesterday that the squadron has responded to 3.200 alarms, flown 941 search and rescue mission, 842 evacuations, carried out 266 rescues and flown 1.130 coastal patrols. The squadron dates back to 1936 when a group of Dornier-Wall planes was transferred to the air force base in the Bay of Pollensa, now home to Canadair fire fighter planes, to help in the search and rescue of ships and planes. In 1945, the Balearics Search and Rescue Service was founded at the Pollensa air base. Ten years later the service adopted the name 801 squadron and started to introduce Bell 205 helicopters and Gruman SA-16 sea planes into service. The Bells and the Grumans were eventually replaced by PUMA Sa-330 choppers and CASA 112 planes, which are still used today and are regularly seen operating off the Balearic coast. General Bayardo José Abós Coto presided over the commemorative act yesterday which took place at mid day at the Son San Joan air base and featured a fly-past of all the serving aircraft and helicopters and a religious service.

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