Retirement of Fleet Air Arm legend Andy 'Minky' McKie
The Fleet Air Arm bid farewell to a veteran pilot who has been described as a ‘legend’ - as he retired after 46 years in military aviation.
Commander (Rtd) Andy ‘Minky’ McKie flew his last flight on October 31 with training unit 750 Naval Air Squadron and retired on his 65th birthday. He served 31 years in the Royal Navy and then 15 years as a civilian pilot.
Fleet Air Arm Commodore Nick Walker praised his accomplishments and said: “Andy McKie has been a constant in the Fleet Air Arm for the last 46 years and is venerated by all who have had the pleasure of serving alongside him and benefitted from his enormous experience.
“Thank you for your true loyalty and dedication, Andy, and for the exceptionally positive, indelible impression you have left on so many naval aviators. I and all in the Fleet Air Arm wish you fair winds as you start new adventures.”
Staff at 750 Squadron applauded Cdr McKie as he made his way back from his final flight. In a surprise treat, he was also allowed to take the controls of a Sea King once again in the helicopter simulator at RNAS Culdrose, with thanks to company HeliOps. Joining him was another former pilot, Roger McDonald, who acted as his trusty co-pilot.
750 Naval Air Squadron commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Robert Crewdson said: “I am unsure of what one must achieve to qualify as a Fleet Air Arm ‘legend’, however Andy ‘Minky’ McKie most definitely fulfils the criteria in my book.
“Having flown Gazelle, Wessex, Sea King, Jetstream and Avenger from RNAS Culdrose alone and amassing more than a ‘year in the air’ of flying hours, his final landing marked the end of an illustrious career in naval aviation.
“There will be very few who have not received the benefit of his experience, mentorship or leadership at some point in their careers.”
Cdr McKie joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman at the age of 18 in 1976. The following year he arrived at RNAS Culdrose for helicopter training and after another year joined the frontline with 826 Naval Air Squadron, still as a midshipman.
Throughout his career he recorded around 5,000 hours in Gazelle, Griffin, Squirrel, Wessex and Sea King helicopters.
He rose to become the commanding officer of 849 Naval Air Squadron A-Flight, 820 Naval Air Squadron and Naval Flying Standards Flight before taking responsibility for the entire helicopter force at RNAS Culdrose in the role then known as Commander Sea King. This was followed by the role of Chief Flying Instructor Defence Helicopter Flying School.
Leaving the Royal Navy in 2007, Cdr McKie joined 750 Naval Air Squadron as a contract pilot, initially employed by Serco and latterly by Ascent Flight Training. He clocked a further 1,000 hours in the Jetstream T2 and another 2,900 hours in the Avenger T1.
He said: “I’ve had a great time working on 750 Squadron. It’s been a blast. I know it’s a cliché to say it about the people you work with but that is certainly true, and I have worked with some wonderful people.”