HMS Queen Elizabeth's air commander is '˜excited' by historic landing of F-35

THE last pilot to fly a fighter jet off a Royal Navy aircraft carrier has said he is '˜massively excited' to see fixed-wing aircraft operating on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Commander (Air) James Blackmore flew the last Harrier to take off from HMS Ark Royal in 2010.

He is now in charge of flight operations on board the Royal Navy's new carrier, which is about to undergo trials with the F-35B jets in America.

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He said: '˜It's a full-circle process, it's great to be back here with the same captain, we are now working together again to bring jet aviation back to sea.

'˜It's massively exciting and this marks the start of the next chapter.'

Describing the amount of preparation, Cdr Blackmore, whose position is affectionately known as'"Wings', said: '˜This goes back almost to the point when we last finished jet flying at sea but, really, the last few years, since the ship came out of build and has been at sea, then we have been working hard as a team to get ready to bring an F-35 to the deck for the first time.

'˜Part of that was operating helicopters and understanding how the ship works, and we have also done a lot in simulators and working as a team with our US colleagues in the Integrated Test Force so we are ready to bring the jet to the deck in September.'

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Asked if he had any nerves about the process, he said: '˜Little bit, but I have got massive confidence in the team, certainly the team in my air department then collectively as a whole ship, we have all been working towards one common goal throughout the last couple of years, so everyone's focused, everyone's trained and we're ready to go.'

The landing of the first F-35B will be at the end of September. About 500 landing and take-off procedures are planning during the trials.