New Commanding Officer for 824 NAS
On 16 July Commander Steve Thomas took over command of 824 Naval Air Squadron from his predecessor Commander Nick Gibbons, who moves on to an appointment at Joint Headquarters in Northwood, London.
Commander Thomas joins 824 NAS as development of Merlin Mk 2 continues and the important role of the Merlin Training Facility are crucial to feeding the three front line Merlin units with pilots, observers, aircrewmen and engineers based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.
“It’s tremendously exciting, I can’t wait. It’s every boy’s dream to be in charge of their own Naval Air Squadron and I’m no different,” said Steve. “It’s fantastic to be back at Culdrose and really great to be taking over 824 Naval Air Squadron today”.
Steve Thomas joined the Royal Navy as a direct entry aviator in 1991. Completing flying training he joined 814 NAS in 1996 where he served as a Sea King Anti Submarine Warfare Pilot. He has since flown Merlin and Squirrel helicopters in a wide variety of roles as a Qualified Helicopter Instructor. He has served aboard Aircraft Carriers, Royal Fleet Auxiliaries and ashore across the globe fromScotlandto the Middle East, the Indian Ocean and thePersian Gulf. As an Officer of the Naval Flying Standards Flight between 2006 and 2008, he contributed to the oversight and assessment of aviation standards and practices across the Fleet Air Arm and the widerUKservice environment.
Between 2009 and 2010 he completed a tour within Navy Command HQ as a staff officer with oversight of the Royal Navy Flying Training pipeline. Prior to attending Advanced Command and Staff Course, from September 2012 to July 2013, he was the Senior Pilot of 820 NAS. Briefly, before taking Command of 824 NAS he spent 6 months in HQ British Forces Gibraltar as Staff Officer Ops Support and held the honorary position of Commanding Officer Royal Navy.
Speaking about his New Command with 824 NAS and the role his aircraft play, Steve said:
“Merlin Mk 2 represents a really great leap forward in capability for the aircraft; it’s an exciting time across the Fleet Air Arm not just at Culdrose. New aircraft coming online, new Ships coming online there couldn’t be a better time to take over a squadron”.