Aircrew ready to soar

Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), ABIS Sarah Williams (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Albatross, Nowra, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Albatross, MH-60R Seahawk

(L-R) Aircrewman Basic Rotary Course 09 graduates, Leading Seaman (LS) Sean Byrne, LS Dan Hannah, Able Seaman Paul Buckley and LS Gavin Brown, with (Centre) Warrant Officer Navy, WO Martin Holzberger, AM, CSC, during the Aircrewman Basic Rotary course 09 graduation.  (photo: ABIS Sarah Williams)
(L-R) Aircrewman Basic Rotary Course 09 graduates, Leading Seaman (LS) Sean Byrne, LS Dan Hannah, Able Seaman Paul Buckley and LS Gavin Brown, with (Centre) Warrant Officer Navy, WO Martin Holzberger, AM, CSC, during the Aircrewman Basic Rotary course 09 graduation.

Deputy Commander of the Fleet Air Arm, Captain Shane Craig, had the honour of formally welcoming four new members to the world of Navy aviation on 29 October.

He presented Leading Seamen Gavin Brown, Sean Byrne and Dan Hannah with their Aircrewman wings and Able Seaman Paul Buckley with both wings and a promotion, at a graduation ceremony at the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

"You are now a member of an elite, professional, dedicated group of individuals," Captain Craig told the graduates.

The 10 months leading up to graduation involved intensive training in a range of topics including 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.

"You can be proud of what you have achieved", Captain Craig said.

"But there is no time to rest on your laurels as what you have just learned, the training you have completed, is not a box ticked which you can now put to one side, you have been provided the foundations of sound airmanship, aviation knowledge and skills.

"You must now build on what you have learned.

"You are required to grow your knowledge and experience throughout your careers.

"The mark of any good aviator is the pursuit of excellence and a focus on continual improvement, as your lives and the lives of others depend on you knowing your job and getting it right first time, every time.

"Make professionalism a point of pride and the rest will follow.

"You are critical to navy aviation and the capability we deliver and I have no doubt that you will use your skills to provide assistance to someone in need at some stage, whether it be a medical issue, accident, rescue, flood, fire or natural disaster, it is not a matter of if but when."

Leading Seaman Hannah, who was named Dux said the graduation ceremony bought a huge sense of relief but also accomplishment and excitement about the future.

"It’s been an exciting period, a steep learning curve with lots of challenges," he said.

"I particularly enjoyed the flying phase where we were exposed to so many different experiences.

"Captain Craig’s words about the responsibilities of the role really resonated with me.

"I do feel that my training has prepared me for any scenario and given the opportunity to put that training into use in an emergency I’m more than ready.”

All four aircrewman will now consolidate their new skills at 723 Squadron before moving to new roles, three Leading Seamen will undertake operational flying training and Leading Seaman Buckley will become a Sensor Operator on the MH60R Seahawk at 725 Squadron.

"Wear your wings with pride, enjoy your flying and welcome to the Fleet Air Arm," Captain Craig said.

"I look forward to working with you to deliver aviation capability to the Fleet."

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20153075.