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Direct Entry Aircrewmen pass course with flying colours

20 December 2016
Three of the first Direct-Entry Aircrewmen to pass their Sensor Operator’s Lead-in Course (SOLIC) graduated recently from 750 Naval Air Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall.

The happy trio, Naval Airmen (Aircrewmen) Christine Bevan, Jack Cokell and Andrew Smith, are some of the first to join the Royal Navy’s Aircrewmen branch straight from HMS Raleigh, where they started their initial training.

Since then they have begun flying training with 750 NAS alongside Royal Navy Observers who complete their Basic Flying Training operating in the squadron’s King Air Avenger aircraft.

The eight-week SOLIC course utilises the Avenger’s broad capabilities as a multi-user training aircraft. The students have clocked up 18 hours in the air whilst navigating around the skies of the South West of the country.

The course focuses on airmanship and challenging decision making as well as a mixture of ground based simulators and flying exercises.

“I’ve really enjoyed SOLIC,” said NA (ACMN) Christine Bevan, who also picked up the Jim Scott award for best student.

“It’s been good operating in a fixed wing aircraft for the first time. The ISTAR (Information, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance) phase was the most enjoyable part for me as it allowed us all to experience an operational environment and consolidate everything we’d learnt not just at 750, but since we began flying training.”

I’m finding Aircrewmen training certainly challenging, yet very rewarding,

NA (ACMN) Andrew Smith

The trainee Aircrewmen will now move onto a purpose designed Acoustics course, which is 12 weeks of ground school learning about submarine hunting and some of the tools at their disposal to do the job.

On completion, they are destined for 824 NAS where they will fly and learn about the Merlin, arguably the world’s best anti-submarine warfare helicopter. Their training culminates with them being awarded their coveted ‘Aircrewman Wings’ before they join one of RNAS Culdrose’s front line Merlin squadrons.

“SOLIC is a stark difference to any course I’d completed prior to 750,” said NA (ACMN) Andrew Smith.

“It’s been a good introduction to using radar, which will stand us in good stead for the future. Radar Homing’s were possibly the most fun part as it showed us how to operate in a real live mission. I’m finding Aircrewmen training certainly challenging, yet very rewarding.”

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