A Sleaford man will be flying helicopters from the UK’s new aircraft carriers after being awarded his ‘wings’ in the Royal Navy.
Matthew James, 23, was handed his badge after completing four years’ intensive training in the navy’s Fleet Air Arm.
He was part of a batch of aviators who qualified from the training centre at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, in Cornwall. Family members came to watch the parade, which included music from the Royal Marines Band.
An ex-St George’s Academy pupil, Lt James joined the navy at the age of 18. He now joins 820 Naval Air Squadron, the frontline helicopter squadron which operates from the new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
He said: “For me, this has just been amazing – it’s a childhood dream come true. I am really looking forward to being able to go onto the frontline and immediately go out on Queen Elizabeth.”
His new squadron is also based at Culdrose, in Cornwall, and supplies Merlin helicopters, aircrew and engineers for the new carriers. As a pilot, he will be expected to perform a wide range of flying duties from the ships, from submarine hunting to search and rescue sorties and medical evacuations.
Lt James added: “My plan now is just to continue flying and maybe become an instructor in the future.
“I would recommend the Royal Navy to anyone even remotely interested in military aviation. The navy is a fantastic place to be and seeing the world really is something you can achieve in the first few years.
“The flying is a fantastic challenge, especially landing on the decks of ships.”