South West Region

2498 Just Plain Sailing

Several years back 2498 Squadron made approaches to the Royal Navy to visit an Aircraft Carrier to explore the various career opportunities available in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm.

Due to the Naval commitments around the World and the more recent decommissioning of some of the fleet this has not been an option, until now!

2498 Totton Sqn was approached by the Navy and asked if they would like to go sailing? Commanding Officer Flt Lt Gary Harding was not so keen as he suffers sea sickness on small boats.

To his complete surprise the offer to go sailing was onboard HMS Illustrious, the last remaining aircraft carrier in the Royal Navy fleet, sailing out of Portsmouth Naval base, up Southampton Water and docking in Southampton Docks.

Needless to say the offer was quickly accepted. The cadets were greeted at Portsmouth Naval Base and given a brief dockside tour of HMS Westminster and HMS York which were on turn around in the base, then moving on to HMS Illustrious which loomed high above the dock.

The Royal Navy had laid on a very comprehensive tour of the ship, visiting many of the working departments including the Flyco, Bridge, flight deck & ski ramp, hanger and even being given dinner onboard in the crew mess.

The visit and sailing onboard HMS Illustrious was an amazing experience, a once in a lifetime opportunity for the cadets. Cadet Robyn Gosden said 'It was amazing experience. We stood on the flight deck waving at the people on Portsmouth seafront as we sailed out of the Navy Base. The whole day was really enjoyable. I have never done anything like this before'.
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