A north-east Royal Navy sailor has joined a prestigious squadron after completing three years of training.
Petty Officer Lewis Boyd, from Westhill, has joined the submarine-hunting helicopter squadron known as The Flying Tigers.
He qualified as an aircrewman, working in the back of Merlin Mk2 helicopters.
The 23-year-old was handed his ‘wings’, the badge that shows he is qualified to fly on frontline squadrons, at a special ceremony at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall.
The former pupil of Westhill Academy will now join the navy’s 814 Naval Air Squadron – nicknamed The Flying Tigers.
Armed with dipping sonar, sonobuoys, powerful radar and torpedoes, the Merlin Mk2 makes a formidable fighting unit, designed for anti-submarine warfare.
The aircrewman is in charge of the sonar and assists the observer in the rear of the aircraft to identify and track submarines.
Petty Officer Boyd said: “It’s been three years of training to get here. We spent a lot of time in the simulator on tactics and operations. As an aircrewman, I am in charge of the sonics and I assist with the radar, feeding all that information to the observer who is in charge of the sortie.
“The best part was when we left the simulator environment and we were hunting an actual submarine,” he added.
“The role is very challenging and there’s a lot to learn. It’s certainly not the easiest job but that’s what I enjoy. I really like the teamwork that’s involved.”
He was one of eight aircrew who completed their training at RNAS Culdrose’s 824 Naval Air Squadron and a small, socially-distanced parade was held in one of the aircraft hangars.
Commander James Taylor, the commanding officer of 824 Naval Air Squadron, said: “I’d like to congratulate all of our students on successfully completing their training and receiving their wings. This is the biggest milestone in their careers; the day that you are awarded your wings is a day that every naval aviator will always remember.
“For our graduates this is the culmination of three to five years in training. That’s an impressive period of sustained effort for them but it also required a lot of support from friends and families along the way so I’d like to take the opportunity to thank them.
“Our graduates now join the Royal Navy’s finest frontline naval air squadrons at a really exciting time. I know they are all desperate to get embarked and do their jobs at sea. They will absolutely love it and wish them every success.”