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The Avenger Aircraft
Avenger from HMS Victorious 1944

First Observers graduate flying Avenger aircraft

Published: 05 Feb 2013

FOUR students from 750 Naval Air Squadron based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall have graduated from Basic Flying Training and continued their journey towards the Front.

Lieutenant Mark Finnie (27), Lieutenant Keith Webb (27), Lt Alan ‘AJ’ McInnes (28) and Sub-Lieutenant Tom Wilson (26) passed the 16 week course on 18 January that enables them to begin their operational training on the Sea King Airborne Surveillance and Control helicopter, Merlin Anti-Submarine helicopter or Lynx Maritime Attack helicopter.

This is the first course to complete training on the Royal Navy’s newest fixed wing airframe, the King Air Avenger. This is a successful collaboration between the Royal Navy and Ascent Flight Training which is part of the new ground breaking Military Flying Training System that is aimed at improving the flying pipeline for all military aviators.

70 years after the Battle of the Atlantic, and 60 years since the genesis of military search and rescue in the UK, this newest generation of Observers – the Navy’s airborne warfighters, have passed the first stage of training in the Fleet Air Arm and are setting off on the journey that their predecessors took in the aircraft of the same name during World War II.

The new Avenger is a twin turbo-prop aircraft with a state of the art mission system and extended range. The Grumman Avenger of World War II fame was a single engine Torpedo Bomber used extensively and successfully by the Royal Navy and United States Navy - almost 10,000 were built.

Mark Finnie, from Bo’ness near Falkirk said: “The course has been a steep hill to climb which has made it all the more rewarding to pass.” Tom ‘Tug’ Wilson added: “I am looking forward to returning to Somerset when I move to Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton to train on the Lynx, and after that, who knows where I will be!”

Keith Webb, from the Withington near Manchester also said: "Military Aviation is a challenging profession, which makes success in this service all the more satisfying." ‘AJ’ McInnes, also from Manchester, thought the course was “one of the toughest hurdles I have ever faced”.

The training for the four has been rigorous and demanding. After being selected from the many who apply to fly for the Navy, they have undertaken officer training at Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, as well as the Basic Flying Training course at 750 Naval Air Squadron – reputed to be one of the toughest in the Royal Navy. Here they have learned to take command of an aircraft (and on occasion several aircraft) to achieve a mission safely. Royal Navy aircrew undergo one of the most intensive selection and training processes in the world, and after 750 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, they move on to either the Merlin anti-submarine helicopter, Sea King Airborne Surveillance and Control helicopter or Lynx Maritime Attack helicopter.


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