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CHF say thanks to local landowners for helping aircrew training

1 August 2022
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Baggy green is the new black as three youngsters try out Fleet Air Arm flying suits as the Commando Helicopter Force opens its doors to a select group of the public for Landowners’ Day.

The ability to use fields, moorland, hills, copses (landing in tight spaces) to train in and above is crucial to ensuring Naval aviators can operate pretty much anywhere.

It’s especially pertinent to the Wildcat AH1s and Merlin Mk4s which spend more time over land than sea supporting Royal Marines as part of the Commando Helicopter Force.

So as a ‘thank you’, every summer landowners from around Yeovilton and its satellite airfield at Merryfield, a dozen miles away near Ilminster, are invited to bring their families in to see behind the scenes at the air base.

Due to the pandemic It’s the first time since 2019 that CHF has been able to invite folk in and thank them in person for their ongoing support.

“Without the landowners’ generous agreement and considerable understanding CHF’s flying crews would not have ready access to a wide variety of terrain, topography and moor, field and forest to develop and hone their operational flying skills,” said Colonel Mark Johnson, who’s just taken over command of the elite helicopter force.

Without the landowners’ generous agreement and considerable understanding CHF’s flying crews would not have ready access to a wide variety of terrain, topography and moor, field and forest to develop and hone their operational flying skills

Colonel Mark Johnson

“The landowners ask for nothing and get nothing for allowing flying training to take place over their land. Landowners’ Day is a way in which CHF can partially repay such unselfishness.”

Guests get to clamber over much of CHF’s kit, equipment, see the engineering behind the cutting-edge helicopters, try on some of the flying kit and, of course, chat to the hundreds of men and women who make the force tick.

The highlight of the day is a short flight in one of the Force’s Commando Merlin Mk4 helicopters – normally packed with marines going into action – which flew guests up to Glastonbury Tor and back.

Organised and run by CHF’s Mobile Air Operations Team, the event is supported by all of CHF: chefs, aircraft handlers, engineers, marines and aircrewmen.

 

Images credit to Jason Bryant.

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