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L-R -  Lt Thornton, Lt Hoar, Sub Lt Wilson, Lt Finnie, Lt Leonard
L-R – Lt Leonard, Lt Finnie, Sub Lt Wilson, Lt Hoar, Lt Thornton
Mike Thornton and his son Lt William Thornton

702 NAS students fly solo

Published: 05 Mar 2014

Students of 702 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) saw the conclusion of the last 3 years hard work come to an end as they celebrated the award of their Wings at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton. 

702 NAS welcomed Flag Officer Sea Training Rear Admiral Ben Key, to award Wings and end of course certificates and trophies to the successful students and aircrew of Lynx Course 1/13. 

For one Student Lt William Thornton it was a particularly special moment as there to recognise his son’s achievement was Mike Thornton. As a Pilot with the Royal Navy Mike flew wasps and Lynx for 34 years during his service. Mike went on to have a career as a civilian Chief pilot flying military aircraft for Fleetlands from which he retired only weeks ago. He is delighted that his son is to carry on the Fleet Air Arm family connection and is extremely proud of Wills achievement. 

1 of 13 Course was with 702 Squadron for over 12 months, and has been exposed to a wide range of disciplines. During the early part of the course, the student pilots and observers have learnt how to fly the aircraft in all weathers by day and night, and to work the Lynx’s extensive sensors across a wide variety of conditions.  

During the second part of the course students are taught to operate and fight the aircraft in the wide range of roles that it may be called upon to use. This has been done overland and at sea, at home and abroad in France, but always with a focus on the Maritime. 

Their first taste of operations at sea came in the Type 23 frigare HMS MONMOUTH in November 2013, where the pilots honed their deck landing skills. And then in January they deployed to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Argus, where the instructing staff then move the focus onto sequentially more complex tactical scenarios. There can be no doubt that it has been a very challenging period – it needs a solid bedrock of skills and abilities that are embedded here and then honed when new aircrew arrive at the frontline.  

Wings end of course certificates and trophies were awarded to the successful students and aircrew of Lynx Course 1/13. Lt Mark Finnie Observer, Lt Mark Hoar Pilot, Lt Matthew Leonard Pilot and Sub Lt Thomas Wilson Observer. Thomas was born and raised in Yeovil with the sound and sight of helicopters flying overhead. He had early dreams of becoming a Naval Aviator and member of the Fleet Air Arm and his dream really has come true! 

A Long Service Good Conduct Medal to PO Hill to recognise long and distinguished service in the Royal Navy. Lt Max Cosby was awarded the Herbett Lott award for outstanding Character and Leadership through his first stage of naval flying training. 

702 NAS marked the end of Lynx Course 1 of 2013 by recognising the achievements of the pilots and observers as they now go on to formally join that elite group we call the Fleet Air Arm.


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