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Naval Aviators receive their flying 'Wings'

Published: 14 Feb 2018

After several years of hard work and determination, five Pilots, three Observers and four Aircrewmen have been awarded with their ‘Flying Wings’ at a formal ceremony proudly attended by their families, friends and senior officers from the Royal Navy. The ceremony, which took place on Thursday 8th February, marks the official start of a flying career within the Fleet Air Arm, was performed this morning in the hangar of 824 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), the unit which trains students in every aspect of the Merlin helicopter, equipping them with the knowledge and skills that will be required once they deploy on operations at sea.

824 Naval Air Squadron plays a vital role in training the Royal Navy’s future Pilots, Observers Aircrewmen and Engineers – those who will eventually serve on our Nation's latest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth. Before the students take to the air, the trainees are taught in ‘ground school’ and undergo computer based training in specially designed helicopter simulators, enabling them to practice flying procedures in a controlled environment. During the ‘sea phase’, the final part of the course, the student must put all that they have learnt into practice but in the unforgiving environment of the sea.

For the students, the Wings Parade is a very important and emotional day, as the Commanding Officer of 824 Naval Air Squadron, Commander Ian Fraser said: “Today is a very special day. It is the culmination of several years of hard work and dedication for the students, and a celebration of their success. Reaching the end of the course and being awarded Wings is a considerable achievement; I am very proud of their commitment. They have proven that they are ready to conduct aviation in all weathers and in all environments, but most importantly, they are ready to fight the aircraft from the flight decks of ships at sea. The students will now be deployed to safeguard our nation’s interests on Royal Navy operations across the world.”


Rear Admiral John Clink, CBE, Flag Officer Sea Training was the guest of honour at the parade.Having navigated and later commanded the Royal Navy’s previous class of aircraft carriers, Rear Admiral Clink knows the importance of aviation.


Along with the Aircrew, three Air Traffic Controllers were also recognised and received their ‘certificates of competency’. This allows them to safely work in Air Traffic Controll Towers and eventually control aircraft unsupervised ashore and at sea.


One of the recipients of their Wings was Leading Aircrewman Stephan Penny from Plymouth. He said:

It has been a long journey to get to where we are now. Everything that we have had to do over our past training leads to this moment, so it was quite an emotional day. It is a very exciting time for the Fleet Air Arm, with the new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth working up to be operational. I am really happy to be part of it all. I always wanted to fly in order to get more out of life and experience new challenges that no other job would offer me.

We wish all our new Aircrew and Air Traffic Controllers all the very best in their new careers. 


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