London. 22 May 2019. The first eight rear crew graduated from the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) at RAF Shawbury at a special parade. This graduation marks another important milestone within the rotary element of UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS).

The Graduates with the Reviewing Officer Air Vice-Marshal Warren James.
L-R  LCpl Danny Richmond, Sgt Daniel MacLeod, Sgt James Baker, Sgt James Hodgson, Air Vice-Marshal Warren James, Sgt Sam Brooks, Sgt Alfred Markram, Sgt Joshua Lyons, LCpl Lee Baker-Wilmot.

At RAF Shawbury, UKMFTS is implemented via a contract with Ascent, who sub-contract to Airbus Helicopters. The modern fleet of 29 Juno (H135) and 3 Jupiter (H145) helicopters are fitted with glass cockpit technology and an advanced touchscreen avionics suite. To support this world-class military flying training solution, Ascent has also delivered state-of-the-art infrastructure, including an Operational Support Building housing advanced training simulators, where the trainees learn many of their skills before the airborne phase.

Lance Corporal Lee Baker-Wilmot is one of the trainees who was awarded his Army Air Corps brevet.  He said: “The course consisted of 6-weeks of ground school, which covered subjects such as principles of flight, aircraft technical subjects and meteorology.  On completion, our training then focused on the Juno itself, covering the helicopter’s technical and operating capabilities.  Our flying phase included Voice Marshalling, Navigation, Confined Areas, Underslung loads and Mountain Flying. The course was challenging, yet thoroughly enjoyable. It has been a real privilege to be one of the first trainees to graduate.” 

LCpls Danny Richmond and Lee Baker-Wilmot

The graduation ceremony was attended by friends and family, and brevets were awarded by the Reviewing Officer, Air Vice-Marshal Warren James, Air Officer Commanding 22 Group.

Group Captain Chris Mullen, Station Commander said: “I am extremely proud to see that the new training system and facilities at RAF Shawbury are producing personnel for the front-line.  The advances in ground-based training to augment the live flying is helping to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the training. We will shortly be operating at maximum capacity, ensuring that our personnel receive world-leading training before moving on to frontline units. Many congratulations to our graduates who have thoroughly earned the right to wear their brevets. Their families should be justifiably proud of this great achievement.”