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OW here’s a
● Trainee AH Catherine Fraser prepares to tackle a blaze in the unique domestic fi re trainer at Culdrose
question for Fleet
as (left) colleague Wilson Tulakepa deals with a fl ash over
Air Arm buffs.
Where would you fi nd the
largest Harrier formation in the
Royal Navy?
TherT e is arguably no more dangerous job in the surface fl eet
You’re probably thinking
than working on a fl ight deck. Jet blasts, noise, the threat of
‘Cottesmore’ (home of the Naval crashes, fi res, weaponry ‘cooking off’, aircraft toppling over the
Strike Wing). You might be
side. RICHARD HARGREAVES visited the School of Flight Deck
thinking ‘Wittering’, where the
fast jet jockeys learn the art of
Operations to see how handlers are trained.
fl ying the fabled jet.
And you’d be wrong on both
counts (aside from numbers,
there’s also the small matter of
overlooking the deck, branded T8, I now have a pilot’s-eye view smaller number of sailors in
the RAF actually owning said
with the pennant number R01). of a fl ight deck. day-glo yellow jackets (the
The aim is to recreate the deck My ‘pilot’ for today is Dave instructors) guide the half a
No, the RN’s largest Harrier
of Illustrious or Ark Royal (minus ‘Eggy’ Eggleston, one of half a dozen Harriers lined up for
unit rumbles and roars at
the ski ramp). It’s all marked out dozen ex-ratings who maintain launch today.
50˚5’14” N, 5˚14’57” W. The
like the real thing except that the school’s Harriers (all are in “A lot of these lads have
jump jets still have the famous
here, if you run over the white pretty much full working order probably never been on a ship
punching gauntlet (800 NAS)
line on the edge you end up with the exception that their and some of them won’t even
and winged tridents (801 NAS)
on the grass rather than in the throttles are restricted to prevent have a driving licence. It’s a
emblems on their tails.
catwalk or, worse, in the drink. take-off). steep learning curve,” says
For those of you whose
I’ve been fortunate to watch Now we’ve said before that Eggy.
longitude and latitude are a little
Harriers take off on many the Harrier is a tough old bird So what do you notice from
fuzzy, that’s RNAS Culdrose, or
occasions. From Flyco. From to fl y. She’s a tough old bird the cockpit? Well, you realise
to be more precise 600 (ish) feet
the ‘goofi ng gallery’. From the even to drive – the maintainers it’s actually a lot quieter inside
of tarmac, the ‘dummy deck’.
fl ight deck. Even from beneath go through something like 60 than outside.
It’s home to eight Sea
the ramp. hours’ training before they’re You also realise that for all the
Harriers, a couple of T8 trainers,
But I’ve never witnessed it allowed on to the dummy deck technology and modern comms,
three Sea Kings, a pair of
from inside the cockpit (the lack for a solo ‘fl ight’. you can’t beat a simple hand
Merlins, a solitary Lynx, plus
of a pilot’s licence being a minor On the tarmac, a few handlers gesture. Indeed, a simple hand
a ‘carrier superstructure’ (aka
hindrance…). wearing shiny blue surcoats gesture is all you have; the pilot
small prefab hut with windows
Courtesy of the back seat of a (they’re the trainees), plus a can converse with Flyco over
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