Navy aircrewman hits milestone on city ship

A Royal Navy shot of a helicopter winching exercise
A Royal Navy shot of a helicopter winching exercise
The company of HMS Cattistock line the deck as the ship leaves Portsmouth

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A ROYAL Navy aircrewman has reached a significant milestone in his aviation career on a Portsmouth warship after clocking up 1,000 flying hours.

Petty Officer Russ Stone joined the Royal Navy in 1999 as a chef and spent eight years working in ships’ galleys before transferring to the aircrewman branch in 2007.

He is currently working as part of 814 Naval Air Squadron flying Merlin helicopters from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose and reached his 1,000 hours while supporting frigate HMS St Albans around the UK until she returns home later this year.

PO Stone said: ‘To reach this milestone is a high watermark in my career. It is a chance to reflect on many hours spent flying with some brilliant crews, in some amazing places in the world doing what I consider to be the best job in the Royal Navy.

‘I made the decision to become an aircrewman after eight enjoyable years as a chef as I felt I needed a new set of challenges.

‘In the past 10 years I have almost lost count of the amount of exercises, operations and deployments I have been involved in. It is a cliché to say but it really is true that every day is different and I can honestly say I have enjoyed every second of it. I am very proud of the job I do and look forward to the next 1,000 hours airborne.’

As well as this achievement PO Stone cites working with the US Navy while on Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal as one of his career highlights.