Pilot's-Eye View: HMS Queen Elizabeth Marks 100 Years Since First Aircraft Landing

This footage shows a pilot's view as a Merlin Mk2 helicopter landing and taking off from the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth

A Merlin Mk2 helicopter landed and took off from the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth today to mark the centenary of the first aircraft landing on a moving ship at sea.

A hundred years ago today, trailblazer Sqn Cdr Edwin Dunning landed a Sopwith Pup on HMS Furious in Scapa Flow.

In the exact same place, Pilots Lt Greg Weal and Lt Nick Allen - from 820 Naval Air Squadron - flew their 14-tonne helicopter onto the carrier’s flight deck and then took off.

Lt Nick Allen said that "it is nice to have in the back of your mind the history of today":

“In those days, not having done it before, landing an aircraft on a ship was dangerous. Now we do it all the time.”


Dunning's achievement has had a huge legacy and it is particularly timely for the 'Year of the Carrier', when the new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has sailed for the first time to conduct her sea trials.

HMS Queen Elizabeth ready to sail

However, flying trials with helicopters and the F-35B Lightning II will only start in 2018.  

HMS Queen Elizabeth weighs 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed of 25 knots. 

Its flight deck is 280 metres long and 70 metres wide - enough space for three football pitches.

The Royal Navy has seen 16 different classes of aircraft carriers take to the sea since 1918, with between one and 10 ships commissioned for each class.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is both a new ship and a new class of aircraft carrier, and will be joined by her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales in 2018.