Last wings presentation for Navy Sea King MK 4 and Lynx aircrew
The Fleet Air Arm closed a chapter of its history on Thursday, 29 January as the training pipelines for Royal Navy Sea King Mk 4 and Lynx helicopters came to an end when 6 aircrew received their Wings from His Royal Highness The Duke of York, KG.
During the ceremony at the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, 2 Sea King pilots, 2 Lynx pilots and 2 Lynx observers received their Wings from The Duke who has flown both Sea King and Lynx helicopters during his time as a Fleet Air Arm pilot.
Lieutenant Danielle Welch made history as the first, and last, female pilot to be awarded their Wings at the end of the Lynx course.
The Navy’s Commando Sea Kings are being replaced by the battlefield variant of the Merlin helicopter, and the maritime Lynx is being replaced by the Wildcat Mk2 helicopter.
This is a special and poignant day for the Fleet Air Arm; these aircraft have legendary status and are loved by those who fly in them.Commander Al Haigh RN
The transition will take place over the next 2 years and will end in 2017 when the last Lynx is due to leave Naval service.
The Commanding Officers of 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) and 845 NAS welcomed The Duke of York and other guests.
Commander Al Haigh, Commanding Officer of 815 NAS addressed the parade with a warm welcome to everybody and said; “This is a special and poignant day for the Fleet Air Arm; these aircraft have legendary status and are loved by those who fly in them. We are approaching the end of an era.”
During the ceremony that included a Royal Marine Band and a 48 person Guard in honour of the Royal guest, The Duke who paid tribute to the Squadrons that had trained the pilots and observers.
HRH said,“This is a very very important ceremony in the life of the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm and has bought back memories to me of when I stood where these six young people are, a very long time ago!”
Addressing those present The Duke added; “I don’t think you really realise how much hard work and time those who receive their Wings have actually put in.
“The work the Royal Navy does is vital to the interests of the UK and the work that these young people do make a huge difference to all of us.”
In addition to gaining her pilot’s Wings, Lieutenant Danielle Welch received the AgustaWestland trophy awarded for the best all round results on the Lynx operational conversion phase and the Audi TT award for the student displaying the most effort during the course.
She said, “I was absolutely delighted to receive my Wings from HRH and so pleased to be able to share the culmination of a lot of hard work with my family.“
All 6 aircrew will remain with the Squadrons that trained them but now join the front line trained strength that will involve operations in support of the Joint Helicopter Force and the Fleet at locations and on board ships around the world.