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AETs Watts, Thomas-Fuller and Kindjarsky

RNAS Culdrose Celebrates Royal NavyApprentices

Published: 18 Mar 2018

This week is National Apprentice Week where the work of apprentices across the land is highlighted. Here at RNAS Culdrose, there are a number of apprentices gaining high quality qualifications while being paid by the Royal Navy as they learn a new trade.


Most of the apprentices at Culdrose are engineers. They gain a Level Two Apprenticeship in Aeronautical Engineering. Other trainees at the Air Station include Naval Airman Aircraft Handlers who receive a Level Two Apprenticeship in Aviation Operations. These are the sailors who run the flight decks on the Royal Navy’s ships as well as being firemen at sea and at the Navy’s Air Stations like Culdrose. As their careers progress, apprentices gain further academic qualifications including level three NVQs and foundation degrees.


It is not all plain sailing. Gaining these qualifications takes a long time and a lot of hard work. An Air Engineering Technician (AET) will have been in the Royal Navy for around two years before they pass their Apprenticeship. This includes ten weeks basic training at HMS Raleigh in Torpoint, Cornwall and six months general engineering training at HMS Sultan in Gosport, Hampshire. They then arrive at RNAS Culdrose where they learn all about the Merlin helicopters, which again take around six months.


AET Hayden Thomas-Fuller is currently learning about Merlin helicopters at the Engineering Training School at RNAS Culdrose. He joined the Royal Navy as an AET because he liked the challenges and opportunities the military offered. Additionally, the gaining of qualifications, in particular the apprenticeship and possibly a degree were big draws. Although new to the Royal Navy, he has enjoyed his time so far.


I enjoyed basic training at HMS Raleigh. It was hard work at times, but it was great getting into the military way of life. A lot of what we did was challenging, rewarding and fun. The engineering training at HMS Sultan was a bit of a shock; there were a lot of exams, but it was all fine if you put the work in. Here at Culdrose is really good. It is great to be working on the aircraft that will be the bread and butter of our careers. The Merlin is an amazing bit of kit and actually doing maintenance is what it is all about.”


AET Thomas-Fuller is local to Cornwall. He went to Helston Community College, so knows Culdrose well. He did his post 16 education at Truro College but always knew he wanted to see the world and do something different. He is ambitious and would like to get promoted as soon as he can. He is a keen sportsman and key member of Lizard AFC. As a man who enjoys fitness, he is considering applying to complete the prestigious Commando Course and gaining a coveted Green Beret. Once fully qualified and with some experience under his belt, he is also considering applying for aircrew. In the shorter term he is looking forward to completing his training, joining one of the front line squadrons and possibly working on board the new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth or HMS Prince of Wales.


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