Milestone for career aviator

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Tom Matthews (author), ABIS Jake Badior (photographer)

Location(s): Nowra, New South Wales

Flight Commander HMAS Success, Lieutenant Commander Lee Pritchard after completing his 1000th flying hour in an S70B-2 Seahawk Aircraft onboard HMAS Success while en-route home to Australia after serving in the Middle East Region as part of Operation MANITOU. (photo: Able Seaman Jake Badior)
Flight Commander HMAS Success, Lieutenant Commander Lee Pritchard after completing his 1000th flying hour in an S70B-2 Seahawk Aircraft onboard HMAS Success while en-route home to Australia after serving in the Middle East Region as part of Operation MANITOU.

HMAS Success was in the middle of an operationl deployment on 20 May, but Lieutenant Commander Lee Pritchard took a moment to celebrate reaching a career milstone.

The Aviation Warfare Officer flew his 1000th hour in the embarked S70B-2 Seahawk aircraft as Flight Commander of 'Flight 5' which has been embarked in Success since May 2014. 

Lieutenant Commander Pritchard is a born-and-bred Sydneysider, who joined the Navy fresh out of high school in 1996. He attended the Australian Defence Force Academy, graduating with a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours and the University Medal for Oceanography in December 1999.

He subsequently completed training as an Observer (now called Aviation Warfare) and, while posted to 723 Squadron and flying AS350 Squirrel aircraft, conducted two detachments to Operation RELEX II, conducting border protection operations while embarked in HMAS Leeuwin.

On return from the latter deployment, Lieutenant Commander Pritchard completed S-70B-2 operational flying training at 816 Squadron. 

Flight Commander HMAS Success, Lieutenant Commander Lee Pritchard after completing his 1000th flying hour in an S70B-2 Seahawk Aircraft onboard HMAS Success while en-route home to Australia after serving in the Middle East Region as part of Operation MANITOU.

Flight Commander HMAS Success, Lieutenant Commander Lee Pritchard after completing his 1000th flying hour in an S70B-2 Seahawk Aircraft onboard HMAS Success while en-route home to Australia after serving in the Middle East Region as part of Operation MANITOU.

As a helicopter specialist he has posted to HMA Ships StuartCanberraParramatta and Anzac. The highlights of these postings were a North-East Asia deployment, a deployment to the North Arabian Gulf in support of Operation CATALYST during the aftermath of the second Gulf war, an Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) and a South-East Asia deployment.

Lieutenant Commander Pritchard was also selected to serve as the Flag Lieutenant to Chief of Navy from December 2006 to December 2007 and despite not being in the air, he counts it as a career highlight.

"That posting gave me valuable and lasting insight to command and management of naval operations at the highest level," he said. 

In 2009 Lieutenant Commander Pritchard completed the Royal Air Force Aero systems Course at RAF Cranwell in the United Kingdom, graduating with several awards including the Sir Andrew Humphrey Gold Medal for highest overall academic performance and most outstanding officer qualities. This was followed by several years experience in flight test, based at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales.

"Attaining 1000 flying hours in the S-70B-2 Seahawk is a significant milestone for me and I am thrilled to have achieved it during this posting and on this deployment," he said.

"It just adds to what has been an outstanding year for me and my team in Success."

Lieutenant Commander Pritchard married Holly in November 2013, and they enjoy life in the beautiful south coast town of Kiama in New South Wales. After a busy year, during which fewer than 60 days were spent at home, there is just one thing on his mind now.

"I just can’t wait to be at home with my wife," he said.

After a six month deployment in the Middle East on Operation MANITOU, Success will returned home to Fleet Base East, Sydney, this week.