A Chief of Navy (CN) Gold commendation has been awarded to Lieutenant Commander Tony Nelson for his meticulous planning of aviation activities during last year's International Fleet Review.
CN, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, visited Fleet Headquarters to award the commendation and to praise the outstanding Naval Reservist for his tireless efforts as Staff Officer Aviation.
Lieutenant Commander Nelson, a full time commercial 747 pilot, said he was pleased with the recognition from Navy's leader, using the opportunity to humbly praise his peers and superiors.
“I am honoured with the recognition, but I could not have achieved such results without the enthusiasm and assistance of others,” Lieutenant Commander Nelson said.
“A big thank you has to go to Commander Rick Allen from Headquarters Fleet Air Arm and the squadron executives, crews and maintainers who put all their effort into producing records levels of aircraft availability.”
Lieutenant Commander Nelson admits the task wasn’t easy and said he met a number of unique challenges whilst planning what would become the largest air show held above Sydney Harbour.
“The biggest challenge was quickly winning the support of the wider Australian Defence Force and the community,” Lieutenant Commander Nelson said.
“At one stage I was dealing with up to 45 separate stakeholders to ensure a smooth execution and the safety of all involved.”
“We were attempting a number of firsts for Sydney and getting various external stakeholders to understand the scope of our vision was sometimes difficult.”
“For example, military controlled airspace had not been established over Sydney Harbour before, but with the help of the Joint Airspace Control Cell, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Air services Australia, a safe environment was created for all aviators.”
On Saturday 5 October alone, over 100 aircraft sorties were conducted above Sydney Harbour, including 29 helicopters and 14 fixed wing conducting a flypast in salute.
Lieutenant Commander Nelson also liaised with the events company producing the International Fleet Review ‘spectacular’ to enable RAN helicopters and an RAAF AP-3C to be part of the light and pyrotechnics show, a first for Australia and a fitting finale to the International Fleet Review.
The International Fleet Review was held in October 2013 to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Australian Navy's first entry of the fleet into Sydney Harbour.