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Capt Orchard and NA AH Nicole Wright
Capt Orchard and NA AH James Rankin
The Naval Airmen’s Qualifying course
NAQC at work


Published: 13 Jul 2016

The latest batch of Aircraft Handlers are celebrated after ‘Passing In’ to the Handlers Branch at a formal parade at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.


This course of Naval Airman Aircraft Handlers (NA AH) was presented with their certificates and awards by Commanding Officer of RNAS Culdrose, Captain Ade Orchard OBE. In his speech he told them they were starting their naval careers at a very important time for the Fleet Air Arm. The New Handlers, who have spent the last six months at the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations (RNSFDO), are also keen to get on with their frontline duties and join the New Carriers being built for the Royal Navy.


The Parade marked the completion of the final stage of their basic training, before they move on to further fire fighting courses at Culdrose and in time their first frontline Units. Much of their course has taken place on the ‘fire ground’ at the Air Station, where they have learned to use fire rescue equipment designed to save lives on the flight deck in the case of emergencies at sea. They have also worked on the Royal Navy's own unique ‘Dummy Deck’ which is an exact replica of a real Aircraft Carrier’s flight deck, complete with moving Harrier jets and real Merlin helicopters. Here they have operated with aircraft safely day and night in different landing configurations and emergency scenarios.


"The last six months on course have really been enjoyable," said NA James Rankin (32), who worked in the film industry as a stuntman before joining the Royal Navy. "I live close to the Base, so it's been very much like coming home. I'm looking forward to getting onto the frontline and hopefully join the Maritime Aviation Support Force (MASF)." James also picked up the Special Endeavour award, given to the best Naval Airman on course.


Another Naval Airman who 'Passed In' to the Branch was NA Nicole Wright (24) from Middleborough who is looking forward to the great opportunities the Aircraft Handlers Branch has to offer. "Most of us are staying here at Culdrose to do a domestic Fire Fighting course. Then we could be off to America to join one of the US Navy Aircraft Carriers for a tour. I'm really looking forward to eventually joining HMS Queen Elizabeth, that's what I want to do, get on that big ship."


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