LAST CIVILIAN FAST JET PILOT AT CULDROSE TAKES FINAL TRIP
The final sortie by a civilian Fast Jet pilot on 736 Naval Air Squadron has brought to a close over four decades of contract flying with the Fleet Air Arm’s own Fast Jets.
Flying a Hawk T 1 from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Nick “Speedy” Weightman reflected on his four years with SERCO, the civilian company that has supplied pilots for the Royal Navy’s Aggressor squadron. Having joined when the unit was the Fleet Requirements & Air Direction Unit (FRADU), Nick has since seen 736 NAS re-commissioned in 2013 as a fully functioning Naval Air Squadron.
The Squadron provides airborne threat simulations to British and NATO ships, allowing realistic training at sea. 736 NAS is also the parenting Unit that represents a central hub for Royal Navy Fast Jet aviation during the transition to Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier operations.
Coming from a naval family, Nick was influenced towards the Sea at an early age, growing up in sight of the Naval Base atPortlandnearWeymouth,Dorset. He Joined the Royal Navy at 17 as a Weapons Engineering Mechanic (WEM) and began an Engineering Artificers course before gaining a full commission at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC)Dartmouthas an officer. Completing flying training, he qualified as a Harrier pilot in 1995 and went on to serve with the frontline squadrons operating Sea Harrier. He saw operational service on the Invincible class Aircraft Carriers and inBosnia,Iraqand Kosovo, subsequently being awarded a Queen Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS).
“It’s been absolutely brilliant working for SERCO at Culdrose, flying the Hawk,” said Nick. “Still being close to military tasking with the Royal Navy and working as a civilian contactor has been a real joy, I couldn’t have had a better job.”
Taking a short break Nick hopes to continue a few solo projects, which he has been involved with for a number of years, namely staring in his own Rock band and gold prospecting in Australia. “What else do you do after flying a Sea Harrier?”