New Pilot for Historic Flight
On a blustery April day at the Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton Lieutenant Commander Mark Jameson of 815 Naval Air Squadron took a step closer to a long held ambition. His ultimate goal is to fly in the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Fairey Swordfish.
The legendary ‘Stringbag’ Fairey Swordfish operated with the Fleet Air Arm from 1936 and saw service on the large fleet carriers during the Second World War. Later Swordfishes operated from escort carriers, and were very effective against U-boats. The nickname Stringbag indicated the versatility of the Swordfish, which could carry an unlikely combination of loads, but also referred to its jungle of bracing wires, which belonged to a past age. The Swordfish remained operational until the end of the war, gaining the distinction of being the last biplane to see active service. By the end of production in 1944, a total production was 2396 aircraft had been built.
Today’s particular milestone was completing his first solo in the De Havilland Chipmunk T.10 after refresher training with current Swordfish pilot, Lt Cdr Glenn Allison, Commanding Officer of 727 NAS at Yeovilton.
The solo in the Chipmunk was also a nostalgic experience for him, “I began my flying career in this very aircraft back in 1992 while I was a fledgling Naval Pilot at Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth. I can’t wait to get at the controls of the Swordfish,” Mark said.
Lt Cdr Mark Jameson is the newest recruit to the Royal Navy Historic Flight which has been in existence since 1972 and is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. After completing his flying training he went on to fly the Lynx helicopter all over the world, including an exchange posting in Denmark and has amassed over 4000 hours since that first flight in the Chipmunk in the early 90’s.
Mark is extremely pleased to be back in the Chipmunk, which is a favourite with many pilots for its beautiful handling characteristics. He will now build up his experience and skills in the Chipmunk and the slightly larger civilian owned pilot trainers, the Percival Provost and T6 Harvard, before he will be ready to fly the Swordfish, which does not have dual controls. All being well he should achieve his first Swordfish solo later this year, which will mean he will be ready to display in 2013 when the Historic Flight will be a key asset in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.