The end-of-year school trip quickly turned into a nightmare when the coach they were travelling on caught fire on the A169 in the middle of the North York Moors at around 5pm on Tuesday July 12.
The incident, nearby to RAF Flyingdales – a ballistic missile early warning and radar site – prompted a swift response from the RAF's 24-hour fire station, who were first on the scene to rescue the children and subdue the fire.
A total of 31 schoolchildren and teachers were rescued from the bus by the four-man RAF crew, who extinguished the flames and used specialist breathing apparatus.
The blaze was caused by a pump failure that leaked diesel into the engine compartment that quickly caught fire.
Baz Gargedt, RAF Fylingdales' Fire Crew Watch Manager, said: "We were just relieved to be able to get to the fire to help all those children. Our guys acted, as always, swiftly and calmly, and were well placed to get to the bus quickly so we could get everyone out in time."
Fire crews from Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay later attended the incident and resumed control, allowing the RAF crew to return to their mission of protecting the radar base.
Rev’d Paul Burnett, Watch Manager at Whitby Fire Station, said: "Many thanks to our RAF fire service colleagues for reacting so quickly to what was a quickly escalating fire with many young people on the roadside.
"Their additional support led to a quick conclusion of the incident. We occasionally train together and this close working relationship pays dividends at times such as this."