FINAL FLIGHTS – WITH A HOT FUTURE
Two retired aircraft from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose made their final flights across the Lizard Peninsula today, with the helping hand of a Chinook helicopter. The old Royal Navy aircraft were moved as under-slung loads by a heavy lift helicopter from RAF Odiham, and taken to their final resting place at Predannack airfield. However, although the aircraft retired from flying many years ago, the Jetstream aircraft and an old variant Sea King helicopter, will still see a great deal of action in their new role; training Royal Navy fire fighting and rescue crews of the future.
RNAS Culdrose is well known for supporting Royal Naval operations across the Globe, but it also has a very important training role, developing the aviators, engineers and flight deck crews of the future. Training is carried out both at RNAS Culdrose and also at its satellite Airfield (Predannack) on the Lizard. One of these training units is the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations (RNSFDO), which is essential to training current and future Aircraft Handlers to ensure the safe management of aircraft on flight decks at sea.
The School trains over 2000 students every year in special classrooms, simulators and on a ‘dummy deck’ so that students can experience handling different types of aircraft. Advanced fire fighting skills are taught using ‘Hot Fire Training Rigs’ and RNAS Culdrose has various modules to enable Sailors to tackle aircraft fires and domestic fires in a controlled environment. At Predannack airfield, Culdrose has two gas fired Hot Fire Training rigs (one wide body aircraft and one helicopter) plus two fuel fire aircraft trainers.
To conduct survivor rescue training, essential to safe aviation at sea, there are 13 aircraft shells (retired aircraft and helicopters) which the students can practice on. Here will be the new home of the retired Jetstream and Sea King aircraft that were moved today.
The retired aircraft, joined by another aircraft small enough to be transported by road, may have had an eventful day, but they still live to serve another day for the Royal Navy.
Commander Jason Philips OBE, Commander Air and Training at RNAS Culdrose said: “I oversee every aspect of flying and also training. Culdrose is not only a front-line operational base but it is also multi-functional training establishment for trainee aircrew, air traffic controllers, air engineers and aircraft handlers, conducting over 5000 training evolutions every year. Aircraft Handlers in particular are responsible for a wide range of tasks at sea, from moving aircraft around a very busy flight deck to fire fighting and evacuating aircrew from a crashed aircraft should the worst happen. Here we train as we mean to fight, so our handlers conduct a range of fire fighting evolutions at our training units both at Culdrose and Predannack, the latter has a variety of hulk military aircraft which allows us to train with rescuing aircrew. The aircraft being moved to Predannack today are a Jetstream and Sea King - familiar to everyone in the local area after many years of stalwart service, which are taking to Cornish skies once again - albeit via Chinook - to continue their immense value as training aids for future generations of handlers.”
Image 1,& 3 – Courtesy of Bob Sharples
Image 2 and 5 – Courtesy of Nick Martin
Image 4- Courtesy of Pete McQuie