750 NAS pass 10,000-hour milestone
The Navy’s flying classroom has clocked up 10,000 hours teaching aviation weapons specialists in the skies above Cornwall.
The King Air Avengers of 750 Naval Air Squadron based at Culdrose are used to give practical instruction to Fleet Air Arm and RAF aircrew on top of the hours they spend in the classroom and on simulators.
Students have already learned the fundamentals of flight – in the case of Fleet Air Arm Observers with 703 NAS based at Barkston Heath in Lincolnshire – and join 750 to learn about using systems and sensors to locate, identify and plot targets or, say, direct a search and rescue mission.
They make use of simulated contacts/targets thanks to the start-of-the-art computer systems installed in the Avenger, as well as real ships and aircraft – everything from fishing boats and merchant vessels in the Channel to British and foreign warships training off Plymouth – to hone their skills.
More than 100 men and women have passed out of 750 Squadron..
Once they’ve completed the 16-week Observer course, they move on to Merlin and Wildcat helicopters to learn the specific mission systems, weapons and sensors each aircraft is equipped with.
More recently, as part of the UK Military Flying Training System – the partnership between the armed forces and industry to deliver aviation instruction – 750 also trains Merlin aircrewmen, who help Observers battle submarines, and RAF Weapon System Operators (WSOps – pronounced ‘wizzops’), the air force’s counterpart of Fleet Air Arm Observers.
As the King Air Avengers pass the 10,000-hour mark – that’s over 416 days in the skies – they have also started training WSOps for the new P8 maritime patrol aircraft which enter service with the RAF shortly and plug the gap left by the demise of the Nimrod.
Since taking the first students aloft with Avengers in 2012 (before that Observers were taught in the veteran Jetstream), more than 100 men and women have passed out of 750 Squadron.
The squadron also teaches instructors… and it was fitting that 750’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Alasdair Lang, was in the back of an Avenger as it passed the milestone, undergoing conversion to become a qualified trainer.