Navy

Merlin Helicopter First To Land On HMS Queen Elizabeth

First ever aircraft lands on the deck of Britain's biggest warship.

A Merlin helicopter has landed on HMS Queen Elizabeth's enormous flight deck - the first aircraft to ever touch down on Britain's biggest warship. 

Lieutenant Luke Wraith was the 26-year-old pilot who set the 14-tonne helicopter safely down on the aircraft carrier, just days after she left Rosyth to begin trials in the North Sea.

He had a four-acre flight deck - almost the size of three football pitches - to aim for, where experienced aircraft handlers were waiting to guide him safely in and then lash the helicopter firmly down.

Merlin Helicopter HMS Queen Elizabeth

Lt Wraith, of 820 Naval Air Squadron said:

"I was pretty nervous - not about making a safe landing, but knowing that every other pilot in the Navy would watch the footage and critique it,"

His team trained around the world - on simulators, on US Navy carriers and on a mock-up flight deck at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall - to ensure they were ready for the first helicopter. 

"I sense all my team are pleased to be off the wall and back at sea, doing what we do best, Cdr Deller said.

"There are smiles everywhere on deck and that's a good sign. Operating live helicopters adds another dimension to our understanding of how our flight deck behaves.

"We've proven our initial ability to operate aircraft safely. Now our focus is getting the ship and all her systems fully tested and set to work ready to commence full fixed wing flying trials next year." 

The largest and most powerful ship ever built for the Royal Navy is now performing sea trials in the North Sea.

Merlin Helicopter HMS Queen Elizabeth
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