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Merlin rules the waves with deck landing training

Merlin rules the waves with deck landing training
2 September 2016
Engineers and Aircrew from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose’s Merlin training Squadron took to the high seas recently to complete the embarked section, of their Operational Conversion Phase (OCP) training.

Eight trainee aviators along with their flying instructors as well as 20 air engineers from 824 Naval Air Squadron were embarked for a fortnight in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Wave Ruler, to carry out their first deck landings and secondary roles training.

“It’s great to get to this stage after five long years of flying training,” said Lieutenant Nicholas Allen, one of the student pilots on 01/15 course.

“I can finally say that I have landed a helicopter onto the deck of a ship. It’s a big moment for me and the rest of the course, we’ve been through so much together. The next big step will hopefully be in the near future when we begin landing our Merlins on board the new Aircraft Carriers; HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales”.

The next big step will hopefully be in the near future when we begin landing our Merlins onboard the new Aircraft Carriers; HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales

Lieutenant Nicholas Allen, Merlin pilot

01/15 course embarked primarily to get the pilots up to speed with landing their ten and half tonne Merlin helicopters on a moving, pitching and rolling deck, both day and night, as well as carrying out what is called secondary roles training.

This involves putting the rear seat aircrew through their paces on winching practices; helicopter in-flight refuelling (HIFR), under slung load operations from ship to ship (VERTREP) and stretcher transfers where they exercise winching casualties from a ship.

“This is what Maritime Flying is all about,” said Lieutenant Commander ‘Jack’ Ryan, Flying Instructor with 824 NAS and Sea Flight Commander.

“This phase of the course is particularly important for aircrew wishing to call themselves Naval Aviators. It not only allows us to ensure they have the attributes required to operate at sea, but ensures that they can live and function efficiently safely on board a ship; which they will all be required to do very soon from anywhere in the world and sometimes at very short notice.”

This is the final phase of the course’s training before the three pilots, four Observers and one Aircrewman pick up their converted ‘Navy Wings’ in a formal parade at RNAS Culdrose later in the year.

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