FROM SAND DUNES TO SEA
Pictured are 820 Naval Air Squadron making the most of the Cornish Landscape to hone their Fly Navy skills. A local photographer, Greg Caygill, caught the Merlin Mk2 helicopter in the sand dunes near Perranporth beach.
The skilled aircrew, based at RNAS Culdrose, were working on their confined area landing skills – landing the helicopter in an area where they cannot manoeuvre freely. Practising skills like this allows aircrew to land almost anywhere.
Carrying out aviation at sea is a lot more challenging than landing on a runway on land, in the Fleet Air Arm our runways move! The Royal Navy’s flying sailors need to be able to move the aircraft onto a busy flight deck which could be pitching and rolling – this is essential training and timely too considering the fact that 820 NAS are HMS Queen Elizabeth’s official helicopter Squadron and will soon embark the Aircraft Carrier.
Aircrew always fly a confined area landing with the back door open and the rear crew directing the helicopter whilst looking out of the door to see all around and below. It’s also an excellent communication exercise between front and rear seats – the pilot must react exactly to the instructions from the rear to put the helicopter exactly where they want it. From the front, the pilot can only see left, right and ahead – they cannot see below or behind – so it is up to the rear crew to keep the helicopter from hitting anything.
All this training is good preparation for when 820 NAS will fly from our Nation’s new Aircraft Carrier. HMS Queen Elizabeth will soon sail from her home port for rotary wing trial at sea, where she will undergo deck trials with Royal Navy helicopters. 820 Naval Air Squadron, based at RNAS Culdrose, is getting ready for this first embarkation. The Maritime Merlins will be joining in a Force Protection role.
Photos: Credit Greg Caygill