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1,000 Hours Achievement

15 August 2017
A night-time celebration in the Caribbean marks a milestone in the career of helicopter commander Lieutenant Amy Gilmore.

The Flight Commander and observer - navigator/sensors and weapons systems expert - of the Wildcat lashed to the flight deck of RFA Mounts Bay passed 1,000 flying hours in the service of her country.

She's in charge of the helicopter and the team of mechanics, technicians and controllers who look after the Wildcat when on board and monitor and guide sorties when airborne.

Amy originally joined the Royal Navy as a warfare officer, before switching to the Fleet Air Arm in 2013. After completing her observer training, she notched up more than 700 hours in the Wildcat's predecessor, Lynx, including a lengthy deployment to the South Atlantic with HMS Dragon, then converted to the new helicopter.

"It's a real privilege to have been able to fly these fantastic aircraft over the last six years - 1,000 hrs is a very special achievement to me," she said.

"I'm pleased I've managed to clock it up whilst at sea on a great ship, on an operational deployment, doing what we do best."

It's a real privilege to have been able to fly these fantastic aircraft over the last six years - 1,000 hrs is a very special achievement to me.

Lieutenant Amy Gilmore

Her Wildcat - normally based at 815 Naval Air Squadron in Yeovilton - has been called on repeatedly in the short time they've been with Mounts Bay, helping police in the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat to locate nearly 30 illegal cannabis plantations, and surveying the abandoned town of Plymouth for authorities on the latter island; it was ravaged by a volcanic eruption two decades ago and has been a ghost town ever since.

The flight deployed in May, carried out some combined training with the US Coast Guard in Jacksonville, Florida, to prepare them for the hurricane season, then spent six weeks aboard tanker RFA Wave Knight until she was relieved on Caribbean patrol by Mounts Bay.

Celebrating with Lt Gilmore are Leading Airman Kyle Mason, also beaming because he's just qualified as a Flight Deck Officer - in charge of the safe operating of the Wildcat, from take-off and landings, to refuelling and tying the helicopter firmly to the deck - and Capt Chris Clarke RFA, Mounts Bay's Commanding Officer.

"While the ship may be on deployment providing reassurance to the UK Overseas Territories and maintaining our capability for disaster relief, vital and under-pinning work goes on every single day to grow the Service's people for the future.

"Lt Gilmore achieved her 1,000th flying hour, Leading Seaman Mason was upgraded to full FDO Flight Deck Officer and a young RFA Cadet Apprentice got her first day-into-night flying exercise under her belt. Brilliant. This is what makes command so rewarding…"

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