Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

Aircraft handlers celebrate with stateside draft

16 March 2016
The latest course of Aircraft Handlers is celebrated after their ‘Passing In’ parade into the Handlers branch at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.

They are also celebrating their next move in the Fleet Air Arm as they are all due to fly out to America on loan as part of  the Royal Navy - United States Navy’s ‘long-lead’ programme.

The batch of 18 Naval Airmen Aircraft Handlers (NA AH) are all set to join the American Fleet and serve on some of their Aircraft Carriers and Assault ships on operational tours around the Globe.

“It’s just amazing that we are all flying out to the States together,” said NA David Johnston, who picked up the Brian Marsden Award for best student on course.

We’ve been through a lot, passed the course together and now we’re off the US Navy together, it couldn’t get any better.

NA Thomas Graves

“I’m so proud to have passed the course and looking forward to the next move.”

The Parade marks the completion of their first stage of Aircraft Handling training. Much of that training has taken place on the ‘fire ground’ on the Base, where they have learned to use fire rescue equipment designed to save lives in case of flight deck emergencies at sea.

They have also worked on Culdrose’s own unique ‘Dummy Deck’ which is an exact replica of a real Aircraft Carrier’s flight deck, complete with moving Harrier jets and real Merlin helicopters.

Here they have been taught how to operate aircraft safely day and night in different landing configurations and emergency scenarios.

NA Andrew Webster and Thomas Graves had special reason to feel proud, as they were following their fathers into the Branch.

“My Dad was a Handler and he inspired me into joining,” said Andrew.

“I come from Helston and I’ve grown up with his stories and experiences of working on flight decks and fighting fires. It’s a very proud moment for me.”

NA Thomas Graves’ dad was a handler for over 24 years and left as a Chief. “We all started HMS Raleigh together, we’ve been through a lot, passed the course together and now we’re off the US Navy together, it couldn’t get any better.

“I think Dad has been more excited than me; he’s really been looking forward to meeting up with his old mates and ‘Spinning Dits!”

NA Graves also picked up the prestigious Special Endeavour award which was presented by the guest of honour Commander Mark Deller from Royal Navy Headquarters in Portsmouth.

Thomas continued, “The course has been amazing although and in some ways it’s been much harder than I expected.

“Picking up the Special Endeavour award is brilliant.”

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.