A squadron from RNAS Culdrose is has returned home to Helston after spending Christmas and New Year overseas.

It means the return of the Merlin helicopter flight from HMS Illustrious, which deployed on Operation Cougar in late summer last year and later during Operation Patwin, the Ministry of Defence's supporting operation to the Philippines and the areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

They delivered more than 100 tonnes of aid over the course of two weeks. During the fortnight on station around remote islands fringing the Visayan Sea, the Merlin was in the air every day, flying 75 hours - more than twice the monthly average - carrying underslung loads in giant nets beneath the aircraft and landing at unusual, otherwise inaccessible sites.

Lieutenant Jon Maumy, 01 Flight Merlin pilot, said at the time: “The flying has been quite challenging. Trying to land such a big aircraft in small, confined areas is all about crew co-operation and patience; we need to ensure we don't damage the aircraft or more importantly the surrounding areas we are here to help.”

The flight, made up two pilots, one observer and one aircrewman, supported by a dozen technicians and maintainers, had been taking part in counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa when Prime Minister, David Cameron ordered HMS Illustrious to help with the international aid effort in the Philippines.

The squadron members spent the festive period at sea sailing home from the Far East.

Members of 829 Naval Air Squadron will be hosting an event for the families of the aircrew and engineers who have been deployed.