London 2012: Olympic torch relay flame to fly to Culdrose

Culdrose base (Picture: Royal Navy)
Image caption The flame will enter the UK at the base near Helston, Cornwall

The flame for the London 2012 torch relay will arrive in the UK from Greece at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall.

It is due to land at the base, where Prince William did his helicopter training, on 18 May on a gold-liveried British Airways Airbus 319, BA2012.

The flame for the 2012 Olympic Games will be kindled in Olympia on 10 May, before a short relay around Greece.

The UK relay begins on 19 May at Land's End and ends in Stratford on 27 July.

Royal connection

For the previous two torch relays, to Athens in 2004 and Beijing 2008, the Olympic flame arrived at commercial airports.

But it will enter the UK at the search and rescue helicopter base before transferring to the most westerly point on England's mainland for the start of the 8,000 mile journey.

In Greece, the flame will be lit from the sun's rays in an hour-long morning ceremony at the Temple of Hera. The flame will then be taken on an eight-day relay around Greece.

Two of the torchbearers on the Greek leg will be "inspirational people" from the UK, London 2012 organisers Locog said.

The flame is handed over to the organisers in the Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, on 17 May in an hour-long evening ceremony.

The flame is allowed to be carried on a plane, subject to Civil Aviation Authority permission, as it is a "symbolic flame".

It travels in a ceremonial lantern, secured in a cradle, fixed to a seat. The flame could burn in the lantern for up to 30 hours.

Navy 'excited'

Locog said the flame would arrive at RNAS Culdrose on the evening of 18 May, close to the Land's End relay start "to acknowledge the vital contribution maritime and coastal search and rescue services undertake for our island nation".

About 1,000 guests will be at the base, home to most of the Navy's Merlin and Sea King helicopter squadrons.

Captain Willie Entwisle, RNAS Culdrose Commanding Officer said: "Our personnel, many of whom are currently supporting the Royal Navy on operations across the globe, are very excited that the build-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games will start here."

A Sea King helicopter from RNAS Culdrose took part in a joint Royal Air Force and Navy Games security training exercise, Exercise Taurus Mountain 1, in Yorkshire in January.

The flame will travel from the base to Land's End on the morning of 19 May.

The 70-day torch relay will travel to 1,019 places, carried by 8,000 torchbearers.

It will pass through every English county and every local authority area in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and visit Dublin.

The torch will take in landmarks including Stonehenge and the Giant's Causeway and have adventures such as flying by zip wire from the Tyne Bridge, ascending Snowdon by rail, riding the Isle of Man TT course in a sidecar and crossing Loch Ness on a boat.

On the last day it is due to travel down the River Thames to the Olympic Park for the opening ceremony of the Games.

Locog say the relay will come within 10 miles of 95% of the population.

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