Meet the people behind the planes. It takes a highly skilled team to operate and maintain these wonderful historic naval aircraft, keeping them airworthy and participating in air shows around the UK. The team is manned by serving pilots and aircrew from the Fleet Air Arm, and experienced civilian engineers and support staff.
Howard Read - Chief Engineer
Howard Read joined the Royal Navy in 1971 and, after qualifying as an Aircraft Mechanician, served in aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal, Bulwark, Hermes and Illustrious, together with several Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships. Shore service saw him posted to Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose, RAF Honnington, RNAS Portland, RNAS Lee-on-Solent and RNAS Yeovilton. Aircraft types worked on include Wasp, Wessex and Sea King helicopters (becoming Chief Instructor for Sea King airframe and engines) along with Buccaneer and Sea Harrier aircraft. On promotion to Warrant Officer he served as part of the tri-service team at RAF Wyton converging Engineering Policy and Regulation for military aircraft. His final draft saw him as part of the Joint Force Harrier team at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland, where he managed the Quality Cell and Harrier Aircraft Maintenance Group.
On leaving the Royal Navy after 34 years' service, Howard joined the Royal Navy Historic Flight in 2005 as Chief Engineer.
Katie Campbell – Display Manager
Katie Campbell joined the Royal Navy in 1983 as a Radar Wren, taking up her first post at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton before joining BRNC Dartmouth in 1985 for Officer Training. She did not specialise, therefore undertaking a number of different and very varied appointments which included working as a Duty Operations Officer for Flag Officer Sea Training at Portland, the Joint Operational Support Cell at Northwood, as the RN Ship Agent in London, the Royal Navy Presentation Team and as an Events Manager for the first RN/commercial International Festival of the Sea. In the middle of these appointments she was very fortunate to be granted 12 months unpaid leave to go and live in Canada for a year!
Katie's final full-time appointment ended in 2002 assisting the running of the RNAS Yeovilton Air Day Flying Control Committee, a job she continued in a part-time capacity until finally leaving the Royal Navy in 2005. She joined the Royal Navy Historic Flight in 2006 in the part time post of Display Manager.
Neil Fraser – Avionics Senior Supervisor
Neil Fraser, or "Fraz" as he likes to be known, was born and raised in Edinburgh. He left school in 1975 and joined the Royal Navy in 1980. On completion of his training as an Aircraft Mechanic (Radio and Radar) he became the first radio trade mechanic to join the Sea Harrier-equipped 899 Naval air Squadron (NAS) from trade training. In 1982 he joined 801 NAS and served during the Falklands conflict aboard HMS Invincible. He subsequently served in 899, 800 and 801 Sea Harrier squadrons, a Lynx Flight aboard HMS Avenger, and in the Ground Radio section at Royal Naval Air Station, completing a total of 15 years in the Service in 1994. He took up his present position with the Royal Navy Historic Flight in March 1995.
Mick Jennings – Mechanical Senior Supervisor
Mick Jennings joined the RAF as an Aircraft Technician straight from school in 1967. On completion of his training at RAF Halton he enjoyed a varied career spent mainly on C-130 Hercules and Phantom aircraft. Retiring from the RAF as a Chief Technician, he joined the Royal Navy Historic Flight in July 1998. As the only
member of the Flight with a "light blue" Service background, Mick is affectionately known as "The Crab" by his ex-"dark blue" colleagues.
Stephen Henrick – Logistics and Quality Assurance Senior Supervisor
Stephen Henrick joined the Fleet Air Arm in 1971 at the age of 16 and had a naval career spanning 34 years and earned the nickname ‘Jimmy’! He worked his way up from junior Naval Air Mechanic to Chief Petty Officer seeing front line service with Wasp, Phantom, Sea Harrier FRS.1 and F/A.2 aircraft. Serving on various aircraft carriers including both old and new HMS Ark Royal, HMS Invincible and HMS Illustrious, his final draft was with the Sea Harrier Operational Evaluation Unit. He joined Agusta Westland Helicopters on leaving the Royal Navy as a project officer supplying EH101 Merlin aircraft to the Royal Danish Air Force.
Stephen joined the RNHF in 2008 as Logistics Support and Quality Assurance.
Mark Wilson - Mechanical Supervisor
Mark ‘Tug’ Wilson originates from Cumbria. He joined the Royal Navy in 1977 as a 16 year old Junior Naval Air Mechanic, leaving 33 years later as a Chief Petty Officer. During his service career he worked on Lynx helicopters, serving on HMS Alacrity which was one of the first British warships to visit Shanghai since the ‘Yangzi’ incident. He also maintained Sea King helicopters whilst serving on 707, 706 and 814 ‘Pinger’ Naval Air Squadrons and 845 ‘Commando’ Naval Air Squadron. He has seen active service in the first and second Gulf wars as well as the Balkans.
Dave Clarke - Mechanical Supervisor
Nick Bailes - Mechanical Supervisor
Lieutenant Commander Glenn Allison Royal Navy – Swordfish Display Pilot
Lieutenant Commander Glenn Allison was born in Durham City in 1967 and spent his formative years there. He left school in 1984, joined the Royal Navy as an apprentice aircraft engineering artificer at HMS Daedulus and subsequently worked on Lynx helicopters at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Portland.
In 1990 the Royal Navy decided it would be safer for Glenn to fly aircraft than maintain them and he was selected for officer and flying training. He followed the well-trodden path of a Naval helicopter pilot, through BRNC Dartmouth to Elementary Flying Training on the Bulldog at Topcliffe and thence to 705 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) Gazelle helicopters at RNAS Culdrose, where he was awarded “Wings” in 1992. Advanced and Operational flying training came on the Sea King Mk4 and he became a Commando “Jungly” pilot. Front line service included tours of duty in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Norway with 707, 845 & 846 NAS.
After front line tours he was selected for Qualified Helicopter Instructor training (QHI), and to that end joined the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) at RAF Shawbury in 1997. After completion of the QHI course he taught ab-initio pilots on 660 and 705 Squadron, qualifying as an A2 QHI on the Squirrel. He converted to the Lynx helicopter and was appointed as Flight Commander of HMS Cumberland in 2001. He had a very enjoyable and varied two years in HMS Cumberland ranging from the Baltic with NATO, to a 9-month deployment carrying out interdiction operations in the Northern Gulf and Indian Ocean.
In 2003 Glenn was appointed back to Squirrel helicopters at DHFS where he was responsible for the training of student pilots from all three services in advanced helicopter flying techniques, such as low level navigation and mountain flying. After this tour he returned to the Commando Helicopter Force as a QHI in 848 NAS, where he was responsible for refresher and conversion training of pilots to the Sea King Mk 4. 2007 saw him appointed to HMS Ark Royal as Lieutenant Commander Flying, responsible for the flying operations before becoming the Commanding Officer of 727 NAS, primarily responsible for pilot grading. He is currently working at RAF Aldegrove and is keeping himself current flying tail dragger aircraft in the hope he will soon be in a position to fly the Swordfish again.
He first joined the Royal Navy Historic Flight as a Swordfish pilot in 2006 and is currently the RNHF Qualified Flying Instructor.
Lieutenant Commander Mark Jameson Royal Navy – Swordfish Display Pilot
Lieutenant Simon Wilson Royal Navy – Lead Swordfish Display Pilot
Lieutenant Simon Wilson was born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland in 1980. He first flew in small aircraft with his father, who was a Flying Instructor, at the age of six. Hooked on flying, he took every opportunity to fly with whoever he could convince to let him in the cockpit, going solo on his 17th birthday. He went on to complete his PPL within the following few months.
Simon joined the Royal Navy as a pilot in 2002, completing the flying training requirements of flying grading, JEFTS and DHFS, before joining the maritime Lynx community. He was one of the last pilots to complete the final ab initio Lynx Mk3 course, gaining his wings in 2005, and converted to the Lynx Mk8 DSP a short time later. Following on, he joined HMS Sutherland for Operation TELIC in 2006. He subsequently served on HMS Montrose as the flight pilot, deployed in the Mediterranean, and participated in Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR during 2007.
He joined 815 Naval Air Squadron and flew Lynx helicopters on a range of demanding tasking and converted to the upgraded Lynx Mk8 SRU. In 2010 Simon flew as the 815 NAS Solo Lynx Display Pilot. Following a Qualified Helicopter Instructor (QHI) Course at RAF Shawbury, he returned to 702 NAS as a QHI teaching ab-initio and ‘refresher’ courses for pilots to fly the Lynx. He has recently converted to the new Wildcat helicopter and has joined 700W NAS as a QHI and now has the privilege of concurrently flying the newest as well as the oldest aircraft in Royal Navy service.
In his spare time Simon enjoys flying a wide range of aircraft. He has flown everything from weight shift microlights, through many different general aviation aeroplanes, to vintage aircraft. He has his own aircraft and has been restoring it to an airworthy condition over the last few years. Simon has accumulated flight time in over 70 different aircraft types to date, of which more than 25 are taildraggers.
He joined the Royal Navy Historic Flight in March 2010 and first displayed the Swordfish in 2011. Now in his 4th season as a Swordfish pilot Simon is responsible for training of current and new Swordfish pilots on the Flight.