THE youngest sailor serving on HMS Queen Elizabeth has been presented with a White Ensign by Commander Nathan Gray, who flew it on board for his first ever landing of an F-35 Lightning II fighter jet.
Cdr Gray retrieved the Ensign from the cockpit of his aircraft after he touched down on the carrier’s deck for the very first time, presenting it to 17 year old AB (AWW) Aaron Dunning.
Astonishingly, AB Dunning, shares his surname with Squadron Commander Edwin Harris Dunning of the former Royal Naval Air Service, the first pilot to land an aircraft on a moving ship.
Sqn Cdr Dunning was killed five days after the first landing onboard HMS Furious in 1917 when his aircraft flipped overboard.
AB Dunning, who lives in Fareham, only joined HMS Queen Elizabeth a week before the historic first deck landings conducted on board by the F-35B Lightning II.
Although his great, great grandfather served on board HMS Hermes, and his Grandfather was a submariner, AB Dunning is unsure whether he is related in any way to Sqn Cdr Dunning.
Taking the Ensign from Cdr Gray, he said: ‘I am gobsmacked. It is such a privilege to be singled out to be part of history being made.
‘I was bullied at school, now look at me, right in the middle of this incredible event. I’m so, so proud and I promise to look after the Ensign.’
After a week firmly in his grasp, AB Dunning has vowed to give the Ensign to the ship, to be framed and displayed on board, a permanent reminder of the historic day fixed wing aircraft first landed on the UK’s new future flag ship.
As reported, the first landing took place last Tuesday.
The carrier is able to embark 24 of the supersonic jets.
When fully operational the £3.1bn warship will provide a floating British base able to strike out across the globe.