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Pilots and observers earn their Wildcat wings

Pilots and observers earn their Wildcat wings
Three pilots and two observers from 825 Naval Air Squadron have earned their wings by completing training on the newest aircraft in the Royal Navy’s operational fleet.

The five students, part of the Wildcat Operational Conversion Course, were presented with the coveted Royal Navy wings badges by Commodore Andrew Betton OBE in their squadron’s base at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset.

Cdre Betton told them: “I am struck by the sense of passion and pride of our new ‘wings’ and I’d like to take the opportunity to mention the importance of families for their support throughout this.

“I wish you every success as you make the transition into front line operational capability, out there striving and achieving excellence.”

The Wildcat is the latest and greatest of military helicopters to be brought in to the Fleet Air Arm. Meanwhile 825 NAS is delivering first class training to aircrew and engineers while generating front line Wildcat flights in support of operations worldwide.

I am struck by the sense of passion and pride of our new ‘wings’ and I’d like to take the opportunity to mention the importance of families for their support throughout this

Commodore Andrew Betton OBE

Lieutenant Scott Sunderland is one of the five students, referred to as ‘ab initios’ meaning ‘from the beginning’ in Latin.

He said: “I have always loved aviation and dreamt of becoming a pilot from a very young age. Naval aviation has always fascinated me and joining the Fleet Air Arm allows me to take a helicopter on board a warship, and do the job I’ve dreamed of doing while travelling the world.”

During the ceremony, Air Engineering Technician Connor Steel was presented with the ‘Live Your Life Award’, given to him for the significant contribution he made as an engineer embarked in RFA Argus during the Wildcat course.

Lieutenant Alex Halliday, who earned his observer wings and is also a qualified engineer, said: “Joining the Royal Navy seemed to offer something different from an office career and I liked the idea of engineering.

“After spending the best part of two years in training qualifying in both engineering and aircrew roles today gives me a great sense of pride. I feel very lucky to be in a position where I can do both.”

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