750 NAS students are tested in Italy

Trainee Weapons Systems Officer FgOf Harry Greensil poses for a quick snap in the cockpit of his King Air Avenger.

It fell to Harry and fellow students with the Culdrose-based squadron to guide the twin-prop aircraft from the Lizard Peninsula to Pisa in Italy and back – a round-trip of well over 1,700 miles.

 

Fleet Air Arm observers act as both weapons specialists and navigators in Wildcat and Merlin helicopters.

 

They learn the fundamentals of their trade both on the ground and in the air with 750, tasks such as locating, identifying and plotting targets or directing a search and rescue mission.

 

The nature of the Royal Navy’s training and front-line operations around the globe means that the observers will frequently be flying through foreign airspace and making use of foreign airports and airbases.

 

That’s not only a key navigational test, but such flights also need diplomatic clearance and the helicopters might need logistical support (refuelling, transport, accommodation).

 

So as the 16-week observer course reaches its climax, students are tasked to plan – and execute – continental navigation training, which typically takes them to somewhere in the western Mediterranean rim, sometimes to Malta, on this occasion Tuscany… including a quick sightseeing flyby over Florence, 50 miles east of Pisa.

The continental phase of Basic Flying Training was a great learning experience giving us an opportunity to plan an international flight. It required a lot of planning but we learned a lot and the end result was well worth it allowing us the chance to experience another country with our course mates and instructors.

Sub Lieutenant Scott Wilson

As well as the complex planning, the long-distance flight gives students the opportunity to experience operating as air traffic in controlled airspace.

 

“The continental phase of Basic Flying Training was a great learning experience giving us an opportunity to plan an international flight,” said Sub Lieutenant Scott Wilson.

 

“It required a lot of planning but we learned a lot and the end result was well worth it allowing us the chance to experience another country with our course mates and instructors.”

 

What they learned from their Pisa experience will be tested alongside everything else as their time with 750 draws to a close; students will use all the techniques taught to date (flight planning, navigation, search and rescue, use of radar and more) in a single sortie.

 

If successful, they will then move on to 824 Squadron in Culdrose to learn how to operate the systems on a Merlin Mk2, or to 825 and 847 Squadrons at Yeovilton to do the same with Wildcats.