RNR Air Branch expertise
A Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy Reserve Air Branch based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose is making a big difference instructing Helicopter operating procedures to front line squadrons.
CPO Air Engineer Artificer (L) Paul Jayes is one of only two Helicopter Handling Instructors, (HHI) qualified to teach Landing Point Commander, (LPC) and Rigger Marshaller, (RM) courses at the Fleet Air Arm’s Cornish Air Station. The other instructor works full time within the Engineering Training Section on the Base.
Naval Air Squadrons have a requirement for qualified load lifting teams and landing point operators when deployed at Sea or with detachments away from Culdrose. They can work independently from a ship and are often expected to manage more than a single helicopter. The versatility of RN helicopters is also regularly called upon when afloat, moving under slung loads between ships or ship to shore manoeuvres; like disaster relief or military operations.
“Working with Naval helicopters has been my core business for many years”, said Paul. “The HHI qualification allows me to pass on some experience to a new generation of engineers and aircrew coming through. I’ve reconnoitred and operated landing sites for helicopters all over the place, sometimes you have to understand what helicopters can do and is achievable”.
Students on Paul’s courses, run at RNAS Culdrose learn how to set up loads ready for lifting and marshalling aircraft into tight spots as well as making that vital selection of a landing site for a helicopter to land. “Sometimes its obvious things like the slope of the ground or the height of close to the site that can only be appreciated close up; it’s decisions like that, which make all the difference in this job”.
Paul has enjoyed a varied career with the Fleet Air Arm, working on Sea King and Merlin and has just completed an Engineering degree course at Plymouth University. “I’ve served on most of the Squadrons at the Air station. Recently I was asked to provide some safety briefings for troops during a big Army Brigade exercise in East Anglia. I had to brief some pretty tough looking Parachute regiment soldiers, who weren’t going to be messed about on how to embark onto a Chinook! But they all listened to my safety instructions”.
Helicopter drills and briefings are not the only area’s covered in the job description. In the past Paul has been called on to move some unusual loads from rocky outcrops around the Cornish coast. “I don’t mind admitting that I get a certain buzz standing beneath a 10 tone aircraft, hooking up a net with a cow in it, having just abseiled down a cliff!”