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Merlin aircrew work magic in the Scillies

9 August 2018
A group of student aircrew flew over to the Scilly Islands last week to work some magic on some community projects.

The team from 824 Naval Air Squadron, based at RNAS Culdrose, visited the Isles of Scilly for four days to conduct community service projects and build on the strong relationship between the islands and Cornwall’s Naval Air Station.

The group, the latest students beginning their flying careers on the Merlin MK2 helicopter, were made up of 15 students and 3 instructors.

With the 18 personnel consisting of a mixture of Pilots, Observers and Aircrewmen, the team were well placed to help with big tasks on the islands and make a real difference in the short time there.

It’s been a real pleasure to support the Wildlife trust here on the islands and we’ve received a fantastic reception from everyone we’ve met over the last four days.

Lt Chris Luke RN

After arriving at St Mary’s airfield on a Friday lunchtime, no time was wasted before meeting the team from the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust.

The Trust are constructing a new pathway through the woodland made of recycled plastic, and needed help to move several tons of equipment.

The team broke down into groups and after implementing a classic “pusser’s” chain (Royal Navy Logisticians), short work was made of lifting the material the rangers needed placed throughout the woodland area.

A task that would have taken their four-man team weeks was completed in one evening, putting the Trust well ahead of schedule.

Poor weather hindered the team visiting the outlying island of St Helens, but instead provided the opportunity to clear the beaches on St Marys, collecting an impressive haul from sweet wrappers and lobster pots, to fishing nets and even a chest of drawers.

This did however provide opportunity for the students to spend more time talking to the community throughout the day who had a multitude of questions stretching from training to first impressions of the islands themselves.

Lt Phil Ross, a Sea King convertee pilot spent a lot of time flying to the islands during his Search and Rescue days with 771 NAS and said: “We’ve been really well received here and a lot of the locals remember seeing the mighty Sea King flying over to the islands to help the people, so it’s been good to come back and show them we’re still around.”

The success of the visit was put best by the Detachment Commander Lt Chris Luke RN who said: “This weekend was a great opportunity to take the students away from the Squadron for team building and to reinvigorate the relationship between the Isles of Scilly and RNAS Culdrose.

“It’s been a real pleasure to support the Wildlife trust here on the islands and we’ve received a fantastic reception from everyone we’ve met over the last four days.”

In addition to conducting community service and building on the relationship between the islands and RNAS Culdrose, the weekend provided a great opportunity to strengthen the bond between the course (Crew Resource Management as they call it) and making the most of the opportunity for Command and Leadership training.

ALACMN Brown added: “This visit has been one of the highlights of my career so far, it was great to be making such a difference to the local area whilst getting the opportunity to develop my leadership skills in a new environment, I’ve learnt a lot that I’ll take forward with me.”

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