New CO for Observer training squadron
It’s all change at the top for 750 Naval Air Squadron as Lieutenant Commander Chris ‘Snips’ Barber hands over the reins of Command to Lieutenant Commander Craig Whitson-Fay after two and a half years in post.
The Observer training Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose has undergone the biggest change in over 30 years during Lt Cdr Barber’s tenure; seeing the Squadron transition from the venerable Jetstream T2 to the new KingAir 350ER ‘Avenger’. Along with the new aircraft and capable Mission System, the training infrastructure has also changed; with rear crew training now owned and managed by Ascent Flight Training under the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS). The Squadron has a mixture of Military and Civilian staff and instructors all with the same goal – teaching fledgling aviators the foundations of becoming Maritime Helicopter Observers.
Upon taking Command of 750 Naval Air Squadron, Lt Cdr Whitson-Fay said: “It’s an honour and a privilege to be given the opportunity to command a Squadron with such a long standing history of training Royal Navy Observers. The Avenger aircraft, along with a state of the art training system, allows 750 Naval Air Squadron to prepare the students for the demands of operational training in sophisticated and technologically capable aircraft such as Merlin Mk II, Wildcat and Sea King aircraft ahead of meeting the challenges of frontline duties.”
The Avenger has an ultra modern training Mission System which allows the trainee Observer to use or emulate a variety of sensors used on Front-Line aircraft. The large twin touch screen displays are very similar to those in Merlin Mk II and Wildcat which ultimately affords the Observer student a much smoother transition between Basic Flying training on 750 Naval Air Squadron and whichever Front-Line aircraft they end up flying.