Yorkshire URNU takes flight with 820 Naval Air Squadron

12 Officer Cadets (OC) from Yorkshire Universities Royal Naval Unit (URNU) along with Commanding Officer of HMS Explorer, Lieutenant Simon Ricketts, spent the day at RAF Linton on Ouse with 820 Naval Air Squadron (NAS).

Yorkshire URNU is affiliated to 820 NAS and it was an opportunity to meet Pilots, Observers, Aircrew, Aircraft Engineers and fly in the Merlin Mk2. For some it was the first time they had ever flown in a helicopter.

The aim of the day was to learn about the work of the Fleet Air Arm and more specifically the role of 820 NAS, and the anti-submarine and mine warfare role they play within the Royal Navy.

“It was a great experience. I was unsure about what role I would like to do within the Royal Navy, but this has definitely opened my eyes to the roles in the Fleet Air Arm and something I will certainly consider”, commented OC Zoe Corton.

After the safety briefs, the group were given a 40-minute flight in the Merlin Mk2. The flight went over York, Harrogate, Tadcaster and on to Hull to see Yorkshire URNU’s allocated P2000 Patrol Boat, HMS Explorer, which is docked in the marina.

It was a great experience. I was unsure about what role I would like to do within the Royal Navy, but this has definitely opened my eyes to the roles in the Fleet Air Arm and something I will certainly consider

Officer Cadet Zoe Corton

Afterwards, the OCs were briefed on the roles of 820 NAS and the jobs within the squadron.

OC Beth Probert concluded: “I am currently going through the application process and to have the opportunity to ask questions and gain a greater understanding and insight was invaluable”.

The OCs were taught some basic air marshalling signals; then OC Emma Gough and OC Ben Farrar, accompanied by the squadron marshals, went to marshal in the Merlin as it arrived back at the airfield following refuelling.

OC Emma Gough added, “Today was a fantastic learning opportunity. I started the day with no clear understanding of the role of the Fleet Air Arm and the roles available in the branch. To learn air marshalling signals and marshalling in the Merlin helicopter, it was certainly an incredible experience”.

After the Merlin had landed, the engineers set about the post-flight checks whilst explaining the procedures to the Officer Cadets.

The next task was then to fold the propellers away, which was observed by most of the OCs outside the aircraft, while OC Ben Farrar and OC Sheona Swales sat in the cockpit and were shown the procedure by the engineers to enable the props to fold back.

“As an aspiring pilot, it was great to sit in the cockpit and see the blades fold away and how the aircrew would go about doing this”, said OC Sheona Swales.