Safe in their hands
`Proud and Smart’ for families and friends on a bright sunny day in Cornwall, the Naval Airman’s Qualifying Course 01/2012 marched centre stage at their `Passing-In Parade’ at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.
The Naval Airman (NA), have completed 36 week’s on course learning their trade from instructors who have served on some of the Royal Navy’s largest Warships. The Fleet Air Arm’s newest Airmen are not only trained to handle aircraft around a flight deck they are crash rescue life-savers and fire fighters as well.
“It’s been a long course and we’ve done so much”, said NA Adam Beasley, who won the award for the best student (Peter Veevers Trophy) during the fire fighting phase of the course. “The Instructors put us through our paces, especially when it came to fire fighting. You have to be confident and know what you’re doing; people are relying on you to save lives.”
Many of them have already been earmarked for jobs on the Navy’s Capital Ships, HMS Ocean, HMS Illustrious and HMS Bulwark, sailing off for exercises and operations throughout the Mediterranean and beyond, within the coming months. They certainly won’t be sitting idly on the side lines either; a busy flight deck on an aircraft carrier can be an unforgiving classroom to fledgling airman.
It not a job for the timid or nervous; Aircrew rely on their skills learnt at The Royal Naval School of Flight Decks Operations (RNSFDO), in Culdrose for safe flight deck operations, weather at sea or ashore at Culdrose or Yeovilton in Somerset. The students have been tested and drilled on how to save lives and fight fires using some of the most sophisticated equipment on the market. “We are very proud of our students, not everyone passes this course”, said WO 1 Bob Holborn, Training Officer at the RNSFDO. “It’s experience that counts on the flight deck of a carrier. It can be like Piccadilly Circus some days, with aircraft taking off and landing every few minutes. We train Naval Airman that will react instantly to an emergency, often putting their lives on the line.”
Not that all of the training has been breathing apparatus and fire hoses. Mixed in with all the practical and academic assessments has been adventurous training in Wales and the chance to get to know the Cornish countryside whilst supporting local community project, bonding together as a stronger Unit.
This new batch of Naval Airman has some very exciting times ahead. The introduction of the HMS Queen Elizabeth class carriers and the F35 Lightning II, a whole new generation of Jet Fighter, are due to enter service by 2020.