Royal Navy Aircraft Handlers Branch Marks 70th Anniversary

This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the Royal Navy Aircraft Handlers Branch, who was formed to meet a need in 1945 to launch and recover aircraft from the navy’s large carriers.

The first Aircraft Handlers (AH) were intrinsically involved with operations at the latter part of World War 2, that saw them fighting in the Far East against Japan and working the decks of the Carrier Force of the British Pacific Fleet.

Bi-planes like the Swordfish had been replaced by American aircraft on loan that would effectively take the war to the doorstep of Japan and eventually see an Allied victory.

Royal Naval Aircraft Carriers throughout the following three decades moved onto more powerful and agile aircraft which all needed the skills of the branch to get them airborne and recovered.

Many pilots were eternally grateful to the rescue proficiency of handlers who cut them free from the wreckage of a crash landing.

Today the AH Branch provides the Royal Navy with an embarked Maritime Aviation support capability that delivers flight deck management, coordination of aircraft movements both launch and recovery as well as crash fire rescue and post-crash salvage.

Aircraft Handlers “passing-in” at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose recently were reminded of their illustrious forbearers, after finishing their intense 17 weeks Naval Airman’s qualifying course.

Image: Royal Navy

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