Royal Naval fliers have been training on how to land on the ever-moving deck of a warship as they get closer to landing their ‘wings’ flying qualification.
Aircrew from 702 Naval Air Squadron left their base at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset to join Plymouth frigate HMS Monmouth and practise the skills fundamental to flying in the Royal Navy: operating at sea.
It is the task of 702 to turn men and women who’ve mastered the basics of helicopter flight, navigation and tracking potential targets into men and women ready to operate a Lynx Mk8 – mainstay of Royal Navy destroyer and frigate operations – on operations around the globe.
The ship’s flight deck is due to throb with the sound and vibration of helicopter engines again next week when the successor to the Lynx, the new Wildcat, joins the ship off the South Coast for training with a different crew.
The new flight will be the first Navy crew to fly the new helicopter aboard a Royal Navy warship – hitherto Wildcat has gone to sea with test pilots in the cockpit.
In excess of 300 deck landings (and 81 in a single day) were completed by the Lynx students as more than 50 hours of flying qualified the six students to land by day or night flying solo, and with the use of night vision goggles.
In addition, two experienced fliers – 815’s senior pilot Commander Gus Carnie and a Brazilian exchange pilot – refreshed their at-sea flying skills allowing them to deploy on the front-line imminently.
As well as honing the abilities of air crew, the week aboard the Devonport-based frigate was vital for giving the squadron’s engineers and technicians an insight into maintaining a Lynx at sea in the cramped confines of
HMS Monmouth’s hangar as the ship pitched and rolled in the Channel. Three in every five of the engineers in the detachment had not been to sea before.
Pilot Lieutenant ‘AJ’ Thompson, who also flies with the Lynx display team, the Black Cats said: “All in all, it was a very successful week – and congratulations must be given to the students from 702 Squadron on achieving a major milestone in their naval aviation careers,”
Press Release, November 25, 2013; Image: Royal Navy