On 25th October 2019, a total of 20 tri-Service aircrew graduated from the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) at RAF Shawbury. The tri-Service parade celebrated the graduation of 13 pilots, 1 aircrewman and 6 Weapon System Operators. Not even the torrential rain could dampen the spirits of the Graduates as they marched on to the parade, accompanied by the Band of the Royal Air Force College to receive their brevets in front of their family and friends.
Since 1st April 2018, the Rotary Wing element of the UK MFTS at RAF Shawbury has been delivered via a contract with Ascent, who sub-contract to Airbus Helicopters. A modern fleet of 29 Juno (H135) and 3 Jupiter (H145) helicopters fitted with glass cockpit technology and an advanced touchscreen avionics suite support this world-class military flying training solution. Ascent has also delivered state-of-the-art infrastructure, including an Operational Support Building housing advanced Flying Training Devices (FTD), where the trainees learn many of their skills before getting airborne.
The Reviewing Officer for the event was Air Commodore Jamie Hunter, Director Flying Training. He was delighted to present the graduates with their brevets and said:
“Congratulations to all the graduates. This is a very special occasion for these talented individuals who have performed superbly throughout their training. I am in no doubt that they will apply themselves with the same dedication and enthusiasm as they join their Operational Conversion Units and then on towards the front line. The changes in the delivery of flying training at RAF Shawbury have been transformational; the helicopters are cutting-edge and provide exceptional performance and reliability, matched with an excellent standard of instruction to create a system as fine as you will see anywhere in the world.”
As well as the coveted aircrew brevets, a total of 6 awards were presented:
The Bob Bowles Memorial Trophy is awarded to the Army pilot who achieved the best overall performance and was presented to Captain Helliwell.
The Peter Adams Trophy is awarded to the Army pilot who achieved the best performance during the tactical phase and was presented to Captain Lewis.
The Captain Albert Ball VC Trophy is awarded to the pilot who achieved the best overall performance. The Scarf Trophy is awarded to the student pilot who achieved the highest marks within the tactical phase; both trophies were presented to Flight Lieutenant Howard-Williams.
The Sergeant John McLuckie Trophy is awarded to the student crewman who achieved the best overall performance and was presented to Sgt Mortimer.
The Creighton Trophy is awarded to the student crewman achieving the highest marks within the tactical phase and was presented to Sergeant Feeney.
Group Captain Chris Mullen the Station Commander and Commandant of the Defence Helicopter Flying School said: “I would like to congratulate all the graduates and award winners today as they move on to the next stage of their career with their respective Services, flying the Apache, Wildcat, Chinook, Merlin, Puma and Griffin helicopters. This success is due to the collaborative partnership with our flying training provider Ascent Flight Training and our industry partner Airbus Helicopters UK. Congratulations and good luck in their future front line military careers as aviators.”