30 years and ‘Not out’!
A Royal Naval Observer from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose with over three decades of flying at the West Cornwall base has completed his last flight with 849 Naval Air Squadron.
Lieutenant Commander Richard ‘Dicky’ Lewis QVRM finished off a long and distinguished flying career with a final instructional sortie on a Airborne Surveillance and Control Sea King Mk 7, after beginning at RNAS Culdrose with 750 Naval Air Squadron on exactly the same day back in 1984.
750 NAS were at the time operating the British Aerospace Jetstream aircraft that were tasked with training the Fleet Air Arm's Observers. The squadron still has this responsibility for Observer training with the much newer aircraft and more capable King Air 350ER, Avenger aircraft.
“Having been an Airborne Early Warning Observer since 1985 I’ve served on 849 squadron’s A and B flights and more recently on both 854 and 857 NAS”, said Lt Cdr Lewis. “I’ve been at sea with all the three UK carriers - HMS Ark Royal, Illustrious and Invincible - in all parts of the world as well as working with the American Navy as an exchange instructor on their E2-C Hawkeye”.
When not on the front line Dicky has mainly been involved in aircrew training, spending a cumulative 12 years with 750NAS on the Jetstream T2. He has flown some4700 hrs since 1984with over half of these as a Royal Navy Reservist having left the regular full time service in 1997.
“During my 17 years with Air Branch reserves I’ve supported operations both at sea and in operational theatres: this has included embarked support to Operation Calash, the Anti Piracy operation off the Horn of Africa; with 854 and 857, support to NATO on Operation Herrick training and a tour in Afghanistan working with ISAF in 2008. I also spent a period as the deputy Sea King Force Commander at RNAS Culdrose once again as a mobilized reservist”, added Dicky.
But having time to reflect on his Illustrious 30 years with Naval Aviation is not on Dicky’s mind at present, as he prepares for a mobilization with the Royal Naval Reserve Air Branch and a posting to Bahrain in the Gulf, early in 2015.