I was shocked to see my CO and everyone standing there when the hangar door opened

Lieutenant Nick Bell

Lt Bell attended Bicester Community College before Loughborough University where he graduated in 2001 with a BEng Hons in Aeronautical engineering. 

He joined the Royal Navy in 2002 following a family tradition – his father was a Petty Officer (Radio Supervisor) from 1967 to 1980 and his grandfather an Air Engineering Mechanic during the 1950s.

When not on a ship Lt Bell is based at Royal Naval Air Squadron Culdrose. He added: “Being a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm is a huge honour and has given me the opportunity to travel the world and experience some amazing things. 

“The variety of roles that I have had to undertake flying the Merlin helicopter has made it all the more interesting. Landing a Merlin helicopter on a Type 23 Frigate in rough seas, at night is one of the hardest challenges you can get as a pilot.”

One of Lt Bell’s favourite deployments was on Op Telic in 2008 with 829 NAS 01 Flight in HMS Lancaster whereas his most rewarding appointment was as a Qualified Helicopter Instructor with 705 NAS at RAF Shawbury.

“Here I taught the next generation of Army, RAF and RN pilots to fly helicopters at the Defence Helicopter Flying Training School (DHFS),” he said. “It was a very rewarding job to take a student who had never flown a helicopter before through the course and see them pass.”

When not flying with the Royal Navy Lt Bell is a keen sportsman – and a keen supporter of Oxford United.