Submariner swaps the ocean depths for wing walking

UP IN THE AIR Admiral Sir Tim McClement has a go at wing walking
UP IN THE AIR Admiral Sir Tim McClement has a go at wing walking
HMS Queen Elizabeth as she started her second phase of sea trials last month. Photo: LPhot Kyle Heller

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TO SAY Vice-Admiral Tim McClement was out of his depth would be something of an understatement.

The retired submarine commander, who spent the best part of three decades serving under the waves, went 10,000ft up in the opposite direction for a daring wing walking challenge to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Sir Tim, of Wickham, who is chairman of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, strapped himself on to an aircraft in a bid to raise £50,000 for the £6.75m Save HMS Alliance appeal.

He said: ‘It was awesome. It’s rather like going on a big dipper but it’s faster and much higher. I wasn’t scared, although my sons said I was because they caught me holding on at some points.

‘It was an absolutely fantastic, brilliant experience.’

His brave efforts over the skies of Gloucestershire will, he hopes, be rewarded with fresh donations to the appeal to restore HMS Alliance, the Second World War era submarine at the museum.

In preparation for the daring feat, Sir Tim had to lose one-and-a-half stone to get below the maximum weight of 13 stone to participate in wing walking.

He said: ‘It’s something that popped into my head to mark my 60th birthday.

‘I was determined to do it and I was overweight anyway, so it was a good motivation to lose a few pounds.’

Sir Tim, who was second-in-command of HMS Conqueror when it torpedoed and sank the Argentine battle cruiser General Belgrano in the Falklands War in 1982, is not the first submariner to take to the skies.

Rear Admiral Sir Murray Frazer Sueter, born in 1872 in Alverstoke, served in the earliest submarines and distinguished himself by entering the burning battery compartment of the submarine A1 to rescue injured men caught up in a hydrogen explosion on board the boat.

From 1912, Rear-Adml Sueter took over the navy’s new air department and rapidly developed the seaplane as a naval aircraft.

Shortly before the outbreak of war in 1914, on Sueter’s suggestions, the naval air wing broke away from the Royal Flying Corps, to become the Royal Naval Air Service – a forerunner to the Fleet Air Arm.

Sir Tim said: ‘I’m honoured to join the small group of submariners who have taken to the skies in dramatic fashion.’

To find out more about the HMS Alliance appeal and to donate, visit supportusalliance.co.uk/tims-wing-walk