After months of intensive training, three of the Navy’s newest aviators were presented with their ‘wings’ by Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Vince Di Pietro in a graduation ceremony at Nowra’s Fleet Air Arm Museum on 14 August.
The graduates bring a diverse range of experience to their new role. Leading Seaman Rhys Williams, who has been in the Navy for five years, originally qualified as a Boatswains Mate; Leading Seaman Dean Kinna, with six years RAN experience, conducted his initial training as an electronics technician; and Leading Seaman Curtis Maxwell, the veteran of the group, having been in the Navy for over 13 years, has served in the Persian Gulf three times, has been to the Solomon Islands twice and participated in numerous border protection operations and international exercises.
All three graduates were motivated to join the Navy as they believed it was a job which offered them the adventure and variety they were looking for. The Aircrewman Training Course certainly offers both adventure and variety with a lot of personal challenges thrown in.
Topics covered include Combat Survival, Air Traffic Control, Aviation Medicine, Meteorology and Helicopter Underwater Escape Training. On successful completion of the ground training component the trainees undertook the airborne phase at 723 Squadron, developing skills in the areas of winching, external load lifting, navigation and search and rescue.
The graduates all agreed the flying phase of the course was the most testing.
“It was a whole new working environment and it was difficult trying to get used to a new workplace, especially given that it was inside a helicopter,” said LS Kinna, the Dux of the course.
“For me it was a very different experience as I’d never flown in one before,” he said.
LS Williams said despite the pressures involved, the flying phase also had its rewards.
“I can honestly say that the flight phase of the course was the most challenging, but it was definitely the most enjoyable. It was also a real thrill being able to apply all the skills that I’d gained in training to the job,” he said.
“For me, the biggest reward is the satisfaction of knowing that I am going to be an Aircrewman, the best job in the Navy,” LS Maxwell said.
More imagery available at: http://images.navy.gov.au/S20131119