848 NAS Final Wings parade
FINAL Sea King helicopter course of 848 Naval Air Squadron student pilots and aircrewmen from the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) received their ‘Wings’ at the end of December 2013, at a ceremony at RNAS Yeovilton.
The students had completed a gruelling eight month course learning to fly and operate the Sea King Commando helicopter; this was the culmination of three years of flying training. The eight new naval aviators received their coveted ‘Wings’ badges from Rear Admiral Russ Harding OBE, Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Aviation and Carriers).
The ceremony, which was also attended by the students’ families and friends, was brought to a close by a spectacular role demonstration and flypast by three 848 Naval Air Squadron Sea Kings.
Lieutenant Dominic Savage, one of the graduating pilots commented, “It’s a tough course, and standards are really high; at times I didn’t think I would finish it, but the instructors are really good and they do everything they can to get us through. I found the tactical phase of the course particularly challenging, but it gives you a real sense of satisfaction being able to successfully operate in an operational scenario as part of the final exercise”.
The aircrewmen are also pushed to their limits on the course, but the focus will soon be on their new challenges as part of an operational Squadron. As student Royal Marine aircrewman Corporal Michael Maguire said, “I’m really looking forward to getting to the front line and doing the job we’ve been training to do”.
The students will now join the operational 845 Naval Air Squadron and complete further training in preparation for deployments abroad. The Sea King Commando helicopters are used by the Royal Navy as part of their role within the Joint Helicopter Command to transport soldiers and equipment on the battlefield. Elements from 845 Naval Air Squadron has recently returned from conducting disaster relief operations in the Philippines.
848 Naval Air Squadron provides trained pilots, aircrewmen and engineers for the front-line squadrons of Commando Helicopter Force. Each year upwards of 200 qualified personnel pass out of the Yeovilton-based squadron. With its last students trained, 848 Naval Air Squadron will now stand down as part of the Fleet Air Arm’s transition process which sees the handover of Merlin aircraft from the RAF which commences in late 2014.