13 Sqn Visit to RNAS Culdrose
Exeter Air Cadets visit Europe’s largest Helicopter base
Members 13 (City of Exeter) Squadron Air Training Corps recently enjoyed a visit to the Royal Navy Air Station at Culdrose in Cornwall as part of their training program.
The day started with a visit to the Bird Control Unit where trained falcons are used to chase off gulls who may cause damage to landing and departing aircraft. The group then visited Air Traffic where they were shown the tower and radar sections. This was followed by the Fire Section where they were allowed to squirt water from the monitor on top of the massive fire engines. The morning continued with a look at the base’s Met Office, who observe the weather and produce the Stations forecasts and finally a visit to 700X Naval Air Squadron (NAS). 700X are a relativity new unit who operate the Navy’s small Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles from warships.
After an excellent lunch, 13 Sqn went on to the RN School of Flight Deck Operations which provides training for all naval aircraft handlers as well as other Navy personnel and those from the RAF and Army who will be involved in operating aircraft at sea.
Trainees are taught various tasks such as tackling aircraft fires and aircraft deck handling. The unit is particularly busy at the moment as the first of the RN’s two new supercarriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is due to enter service shortly. The Cadets got to sit in some of the school’s Sea Harriers, which are used for deck training. Although grounded, these are the UK’s last working examples of the legendary fighter which have been used in this role since their premature retirement in 2006.
The next stop was to 849 NAS who operate the UK’s last 7 examples of the famous Westland Sea King. Nearly 180 of the much loved aircraft have served the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force since 1969 as a Sea and Rescue, troop transport, anti-submarine and Airborne Early Warning aircraft in Falklands, the Gulf War, the Balkans conflict, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan. 849 use the Sea King in the AEW role, the cadets were shown the cockpit, although they were not allowed in the rear of the aircraft due to the sensitive nature of the equipment in the cabin.
The day finished with the highlight, a Merlin helicopter flight with 824 NAS, the RN’s Operational Conversion Unit which trains Pilots, Observers and ground crew to fly and operate the Navy’s 30 AugustaWestland Merlin HM.2 anti-submarine helicopters. After being shown round the aircraft and being given a safety brief, all the Cadets and staff enjoyed a flight around the local area, including Lands End.
A massive thanks to RNAS Culdrose for a great day out.