Sea King pilots reach flying milestones in Afghanistan
Camp Bastion in the heart of the Afghanistan desert is home to thousands of coalition service men and women.
Three of them have been serving with Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan), flying Sea King Mk4 helicopters from 845 and 846 Naval Air Squadrons.
Lieutenants Nick Plenty and Ally Macleod and Petty Officer Aircrewman Richard Symonds have recently passed flying milestones whilst on deployment. Nick and Ally achieved the 1000 flying hours mark and Richard 2000 hours.
Petty Officer Aircrewman Richard Symonds works as a flight senior Aircrewman on 846 Naval Air Squadron.
His 2,000 hours flying achievement is the result of eight operational tours to Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia and a two year stint on 771 Search and Rescue squadron as an instructor.
During his time as an Aircrewman he has completed most of the hardest and demanding courses in the Royal Navy, including the Norway Cold Weather Survival Course; Aircrewman Instructor; Navy Diver, All Arms Commando Course, Fast Rope and Abseiling Instructor courses.
Lieutenant Ally Macleod from Cheltenham joined the Royal Navy to be a pilot after a boyhood interest in flying which stemmed from both his parents being in the RAF.
He said: “I always wanted to learn how to fly and what better way to do that than by making it my living. I had no interest is sitting behind a desk in an office all day.”
After completing the Basic Officer Course at Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, he embarked on 3 years of flying training.
Since then he has deployed to Afghanistan three times and to Norway, Kenya and the USA.
Lieutenant Nick Plenty was born in Sydney, Australia.
He joined the Royal Australian Navy straight from school and is currently on a three year exchange with the Royal Navy.
He was posted to HMS Albion and took part in a major amphibious training exercise and after 9 further months of training he was awarded his Royal Navy Wings and became a fully-fledged member of Commando Helicopter Force, 845 Naval Air Squadron.
For any aviator, these career moments never go without some kind of celebration.
This was no different, despite the obvious caveat of being deployed to Helmand.
Although working together as a crew, these three individuals have quite different backgrounds but have come together to provide a valued service to the ground troops in Afghanistan.
Source: Fleet Air Arm / Royal Navy
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