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Grob on training flight
OCDT Anna Beare & OCDT Chris Towers

University students at Yeovilton

Published: 19 Apr 2012

Fourteen students from University Royal Naval Units, (URNU’s) across the UK travelled to the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton to take part in a two week special flying course with 727 Naval Air Squadron, flying the Grob Tutor trainer aircraft.

Journeying from Aberdeen in the north and closer to Yeovilton, Southampton, the students arrived the week before Easter. All members of their respective Universities URNU and keen to learn more about naval aviation in the Fleet Air Arm. URNU’s are based within some of the country’s leading universities in England, Scotland and Wales offering support to 700 undergraduates at any one time. The aim of URNU’s is to broaden naval understanding and develop undergraduates who show potential to become the leaders of tomorrow, through maritime experience and exposure to the values and ethos of the Royal Navy.

In a packed two week students experienced up to 8 hours of instructed flying, as well as visits to Yeovilton’s front line helicopter squadrons, where they were able to talk with pilots, observers and engineers. Visits to 815, 848 and 846 naval air squadrons, as well as the Naval Flying Standards Flight (Fixed Wing) operating the Hawk T1, were well received during the course.

Students were taught the basics of flying in a classroom environment and then given the chance to put this new knowledge into practice in the air. The most exciting being the aerobatics sortie in which students learnt how to loop, barrel roll and stall turn, luckily sick bags were issued before every flight!

The chance to interact with serving naval officers in HMS Heron’s wardroom also provided an excellent place to get to know each other, building friendships and taking advantage of the facilities in the mess and around the air base. At the end of the first week, with the weekend approaching, the students were keen to explore local attractions such as the Fleet Air Arm Museum, which brought out the rich history of previous naval aviators.

The second week began with circuit training in the gym where the navy Physical Trainers drove everybody to near exhaustion early in the week. Regardless, they rallied on to conduct a small air navigation exercises around the local airspace involving formation flying and tail chases with up to three Tutor aircraft in close proximity. This proved to be the highlight of the course. Officer Cadet Anna Beare, of Cambridge URNU said, “Formation flying was the best thing I have ever done. I couldn’t stop smiling”.

At the end of the course the students were individual debriefed by their flying instructors and given invaluable advice to take into the future. Ultimately, the two weeks provided an exciting Easter deployment for the URNU cadets. Each student flew an average of 8 hours over the course, as well as gaining invaluable appreciation of the Fleet Air Arm, its aircraft, and the squadrons they operate from.

Lieutenant Daley Simpson 727 NAS said, “We run these courses several times a year for potential officer candidates. It gives aspiring pilots an insight to military flying training; develop their awareness and Naval Aviation knowledge through their stay at RNAS Yeovilton”.


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