CULDROSE PILOT IS LOOKING FORWARD TO HIS NEXT 1000 HOURS
The Senior Pilot of a Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose front line Merlin Squadron is celebrating after reaching 4000th flying hours.
On returning from a training sortie in one of the squadron’s Merlin Mk 2 anti-submarine helicopters, Lieutenant Commander Dave Thomas was greeted by 829 Naval Air Squadron’s Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Kay Burbidge, with a bottle of champagne along with a celebratory Flag in his honour.
David Joined the Royal Navy in 1997 and after passing out of Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth was awarded his Flying Wings on 810 NAS in 2001, which operated the Sea King Mk 6. He has flown Sea Kings with 819 NAS at RNAS Prestwick in Scotland, 820 NAS and 849 ‘A’ Flight at Culdrose, as well as Merlin Mk 1’s with 824 and 814 NAS’s. He qualified as a Helicopter Flying Instructor in 2006 and returned to flying tours on 824 and 820 NAS with the Merlin Mk1 and then joined 829 NAS on the Merlin Mk 2.
Throughout his service David has flown on Operations across the Globe, in particular Naval Operations in Sierra Leone, Somalia, The Gulf and the Far East as well as embarked Operations on board many of the Royal Navy’s Aircraft Carriers, Destroyers and Frigates.
“It has been a great honour and privilege to fly 4000 hours for the Royal Navy,” said Lt Cdr Thomas. “In the 20 years of my aviation career so far, I have been lucky enough to experience some of the best flying available, from negotiating the heavy seas of the North Atlantic to the jungles of West Africa, and the deserts of the Middle East to the tundra of the Arctic Circle. The Merlin Mk2 is an incredibly capable aircraft and immensely rewarding to fly. I can’t wait to get started on my next 1000 hours!”