Uffa sailing one of his Airborne Lifeboat
Uffa sailing one of his RN-1 Airborne Lifeboats (photo: from the Uffa Fox Archive)

The story of the Airborne Lifeboat is about so much more than just a lifeboat. Its inspiration was the terrible losses of ditched aircrew being taken by the RAF in the early years of the war. Its realisation was months of review, design, trial and handwork by many, with Uffa Fox playing a lead role. And its use was far more complicated than the naive thought “Plane drops lifeboat, airmen navigate home”.

“The Sea Shall Not Have Them”
The motto of the Air Sea Rescue Service

(c) Stephens Orr

This site brings together a summary of others’ work on the history of Airborne Lifeboats and their use in the interest of making it more widely known. This site does not present new information nor does it replace these excellent references. It aims to present an overview of the subject and celebrate Uffa Fox’s role in making the lifeboats a reality. We encourage you to read the references for yourselves.

18th – 21st August 2022

Part of the motivation for this site was thinking about how to include the ‘Airborne Lifeboat’ in a celebration of the life and work of Uffa Fox on the 50th anniversary of his death during August 2022- UF50.

It became clear that, despite some excellent written sources, there was no single place on the web which gave an holistic account of the Airborne Lifeboat and its role around the World in the 1940s. Indeed, worse than that there was conflicting information.
Feedback, corrections and additions on the site are welcomed via the Contact form.

Help for Fairey Marine Atalanta Owners

“They used to drop these from aircraft didn’t they?”

It is also hoped that increased understanding will help reduce the number of times this question gets asked of Fairey Atalanta owners. Both were designed by Uffa and there are similarities in hull lines, but they are very different craft.

1944 – Airmen erecting the airborne lifeboat.
© IWM (CH 13910)
Atalanta 26 – from the Atalanta Owners Organisation website.

We have tried hard to ensure that all materials presented comply with copyright law, crediting where we have made quotes and providing full information on our sources. However we are aware that this may not always be the case. If we have failed please contact us in order to clarify the case. In the first instance we would ask for permission to display the content, with any remedial qualifications. Failing that we will of course remove the relevant material from the website.

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Comment and Contribute

We welcome comments, additional information, corrections and all contributions. The aim of this site is to spread knowledge of the Airborne Lifeboats and those responsible for them.
If you can help us, please use the ‘Comment’ form on the relevant page(s) or the ‘Contact Us’ form at the bottom of all pages.