In their final rehearsal run for the “Diamond Nine” formation at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, aviators from across the Fleet Air Arm drew upon skills normally used on operations to perfect the formation.
The nine naval helicopters of the Fleet Air Arm will form a “Diamond Nine” in the skies above London this Sunday to salute Her Majesty. The formation will be led by the legendary Swordfish biplane of the Royal Navy Historic Flight. It will fly along the Thames and pass over Her Majesty onboard the Spirit of Chartwell and then over Tower Bridge.
The flypast of naval aircraft will involve helicopters from squadrons which have elements currently deployed on operations at home and overseas. In addition to the flypast, Royal Naval vessels will form the Royal Barge Honour Guard to escort Her Majesty as she travels along the Thames.
Leading the formation is the Swordfish, a heroic veteran of the Second World War and star of the Royal Navy’s Historic Flight. Swordfish pilot Lt Cdr Glen Allison RN, Commanding Officer of 727 Naval Air Squadron said,
It’s an enormous privilege to be flying in the Swordfish for Her Majesty. To represent the Fleet Air Arm in such a legendry symbol is a great privilege.
The Diamond formation is headed up by a Merlin Mk 1 helicopter of 824 Naval Air Squadron. It is accompanied by a Merlin from 820 Naval Air Squadron, the crew of which will deploy to the Middle East on maritime security operations two days after the Jubilee to join the rest of the squadron. The third Merlin is from 829 Naval Air Squadron. A Merlin from 829 NAS recently helped HMS Westminster seize £14million worth of drugs off Somalia and last year flew in support of naval operations off Libya.
The three Lynx Mk 8 helicopters come from 815 Naval Air Squadron which has aircraft embarked in a variety of ships around the world throughout the year. It is most frequently used in counter-piracy, drugs and terrorism roles.
It is also highly valuable in providing disaster relief. Lt Cdr Toby Clay RN, flying one of these aircraft, was instrumental in offering disaster relief in the wake of the Boxing Day tsunami when his flight was embarked in HMS Chatham in the Indian Ocean.
The green Sea King Mk 4, known as the “Jungly”, is used to transport and insert Royal Marines and other forces in amphibious and land assaults. The helicopter flying today is from 848 Naval Air Squadrons which trains aircrew on the Jungly before they advance to either 845 or 846 NAS. These squadrons combine deployments in Afghanistan with amphibious assault training in the Arctic Circle.
The red and grey Sea King Mk 5 from 771 Naval Air Squadron provides part of the UK’s Search and Rescue capability. This squadron flew the Olympic Torch from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose to Land’s End earlier this month.
The green and grey Lynx Mk 7 from 847 Naval Air Squadron is part of the Commando Helicopter Force. This type of aircraft is flown by Royal Navy and Royal Marine aviators from afloat and ashore in support of operations.
For further information please contact Sub Lt Max Cosby RN: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0207 218 2661
For updates and photos taken by the Royal Navy during the River Pageant please follow @royalnavy on Twitter and go to ‘Royal Navy’ on Facebook.
Images of the rehearsal flypast and a graphic of how the formation will be arranged are available from www.defencenewsimagery.mod.uk
Note to editors
The Fleet Air Arm
Royal Navy aviation is over 100 years old, and together with the Royal Flying Corps provided the origins for the Royal Air Force in April 1918. Since 1939 the Royal Navy has owned and operated its own aircraft. It was a world-leader in carrier aviation and all important carrier systems originate from Royal Naval inventions.
Its aircraft and sailors are currently deployed in Afghanistan as well as being scattered far and wide in ships all around the globe 365 days a year.
Also known as HMS Heron – is one of the Navy’s two principal air bases, and one of the busiest military airfields in the UK. It is home to the Lynx Helicopter Force and the Commando helicopter Force, with more than 100 aircraft operating on front-line squadrons and training units, plus the legendary vintage aircraft of the RN Historic Flight. The base is located near Yeovil in Somerset and covers around 1,400 acres with the main airfield in Yeovilton itself and the satellite at Ilton (Merryfield).
RNAS Yeovilton also hosts the world famous Fleet Air Arm Museum.