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Kay Burbidge
Kay Burbidge

First Female Observer to clock up 3000 flying hours

Published: 23 Oct 2012

Lieutenant Commander Kay Burbidge has recently achieved another aviation milestone; this time reaching 3000 flying hours. Kay, who was the Royal Navy’s first ever female Senior Observer, is the first female in the Fleet Air Arm to hit this target.

Kay’s achievement comes on the back of recent successful antipiracy and antidrugs operations in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean, where her Squadron’s Merlin helicopter was based onboard HMS Westminster. Her flying rate of over 1000 hours in just over three years is testament to the success that the Merlin helicopter is having on the frontline, making a vital contribution to various Royal Naval deployments across the globe in a variety of testing environments.

Kay, who is currently the Senior Observer of 829 Naval Air Squadron, joined the Royal Navy in 1988 as a Wren Air Engineering Mechanic and was selected for commission in 1995. Since gaining her Observer Wings in 1997, she has spent the majority of her career working on Squadrons based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose. Flying Sea King helicopters, Kay worked on 820 Squadron and 771 Squadron, where she was one of the Search and Rescue Crews. Her Merlin helicopter experience comes from deployments with Naval Air Squadrons including 814 Squadron and 824 Squadron. More recently, she has been based at 829 Squadron where she was the HMS Monmouth Flight Commander during their 2009 OP TELIC deployment, before taking over as the Royal Navy’s first female Senior Observer in November 2010.


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