Somerset

Lynx pilot gets Royal Navy wings from Prince Andrew

Lieutenant Danielle Welch receives her Wings from The Duke of York Image copyright PA
Image caption Lt Danielle Welch was presented with her wings by The Duke of York

The first and last woman to become a Royal Navy "ab-initio" Lynx helicopter pilot has received her wings from Prince Andrew.

At a ceremony at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, Lt Danielle Welch, 30, was formally recognised as having completed more than five years of training.

It was the last parade for recently qualified pilots of the Lynx.

And it was Prince Andrew's first public appearance in the UK since allegations arose about his private life.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Lt Danielle Welch said she was looking forward to doing the job she has trained for

Lt Welch, from Staffordshire, who trained "ab-initio" on the Lynx Mk 8 - meaning she trained from start to finish on the same aircraft - said: "My family and friends are all very proud.

"This is something I have been trying to achieve for most of my life and when I found out I had been selected it was brilliant.

"The course is tough. We started the Lynx course with six and we've ended with four. Previous courses have a similar attrition rate.

"Not everyone gets through but to achieve it is brilliant."

'Brought back memories'

Three male pilots who qualified to fly the Lynx and the Sea King were also given their wings by Prince Andrew.

The 815 Naval Air Squadron's fleet of Lynx Mk 8 aircraft is due to be replaced in 2017 with the Wildcat helicopter, while 845 Naval Air Squadron's Sea Kings are being switched to the Merlin.

The Duke of York flew Lynxes and Sea Kings when he served as a Royal Navy pilot more than 20 years ago.

He said: "Just being here today at one of these very, very important ceremonies in the life of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm brought back memories to me when I was stood where these young people were a long time ago.

"I don't think people really realise the amount of hard work and the amount of time those who have received their wings today have actually put in."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Duke of York inspected sailors on parade during the wings ceremony at RNAS Yeovilton

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