The pilots will play a vital role in Navy’s fleet, flying MH-60R Seahawk maritime combat helicopters to master warfare operations against adversaries above and below the surface, as well as operating MRH-90 maritime support helicopters, transporting stores and passengers around the fleet at sea.
Sub Lieutenants Sean Jeal, Rhiannon Thompson, Max Whiticker and Midshipman Mitchell Biffin successfully completed 251 Advanced Pilots Course alongside their RAAF course mates.
Speaking with Leading Seaman Aircrewman Adam Wade of Navy Daily, Sub Lieutenant Whiticker said, “It was great to go to work every day and learn new skills while improving on old ones.".
The new pilots’ graduation was the culmination of 18 months of intensive flying training, which commenced at the Basic Flying Training School in Tamworth, NSW operating CT-4 training aircraft. The students then progressed to the PC-9 turboprop aircraft while training at RAAF Base Pearce.
Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Chris Smallhorn presided as reviewing officer of the parade and was on hand to present the new pilots with their ‘wings’.
A number of awards were also presented during the ceremony. Sub Lieutenant Whiticker Whiticker was presented with the Leadership and Most Improved award while Sub Lieutenant Thompson received the Aerobatic Skill trophy.
“To beat all the guys and say I can fly some pretty sweet aerobatics is very cool!” Sub Lieutenant Thompson told Navy Daily.
The new pilots will move on to their next phase of training, learning to fly the EC135 helicopter at the joint helicopter school located at HMAS Albatross in NSW.