Merlin helicopter squadron boss reaches flying milestone on new carrier

Commander (Cdr) Jon Holroyd, Commanding Officer (CO) of 820 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), reached his 3000 hour milestone this month whilst flying from the Royal Navy's brand new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Merlins from 820 NAS, based at RNAS Culdrose, are currently flying from the UK's newest and biggest warship, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

As a new class of aircraft carrier, the ship must get used to flying with helicopters before she can operate fast jets. Once all forms of naval aviation have worked with the ship, she will then be ready to operate across all oceans defending the UK's interests.

Cdr Holroyd was delighted to reach this milestone whilst flying from HMS Queen Elizabeth. He joined the Royal Navy in 1996 and reached the front line as an observer, the tactician in the Royal Navy's helicopters, in 1999.

It's a very satisfying day! To reach 3000 hours on my CO's tour and on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, is not something I expected to happen

Commander Jon Holroyd, Commanding Officer of 820 Naval Air Squadron

Cdr Holroyd flew the Merlin's predecessor, the Sea King, and then the Merlin Mark 1. He is used to aircraft carrier operations as he worked on one of HMS Queen Elizabeth's predecessors, HMS Illustrious, as the flying coordinator or operations officer.

He was promoted Commander and given command of 820 NAS in February 2016.

Of his recent milestone, Cdr Holroyd said, "It's a very satisfying day! To reach 3000 hours on my CO's tour and on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, is not something I expected to happen.

“I still sit in the helicopter and learn, so I always say to new people coming through - you never stop learning new things, so don't ever say you know everything!"