Lieutenant Commander Kay Burbidge is the first woman in the Fleet Air Arm to hit this target.
Lt Cdr Burbidge’s achievement comes on the back of recent successful anti-piracy and anti-drugs operations in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean, where her squadron’s Merlin helicopter was based on board HMS Westminster.
Her flying rate of over 1,000 hours in just over three years is testament to the success that the Merlin helicopter is having on the front line, making a vital contribution to various Royal Naval deployments across the globe in a variety of testing environments.
The naval officer, who is currently the Senior Observer of 829 Naval Air Squadron, joined the Senior Service in 1988 as a Wren air engineering mechanic and was selected for commission in 1995.
Since gaining her Observer Wings in 1997, Lt Cdr Burbidge has spent the majority of her career working on squadrons based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose. She worked on 820 Squadron and 771 Squadron flying Sea King helicopters, where she was one of the Search and Rescue crews.
Lt Cdr Burbidge’s Merlin helicopter experience comes from deployments with Naval Air Squadrons including 814 Squadron and 824 Squadron. More recently, she has been based at 829 Squadron where she was the HMS Monmouth Flight Commander during their 2009 Op TELIC deployment, before taking over as the Royal Navy’s first female Senior Observer in November 2010.