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A former sports student has completed the tough training required to become a Royal Navy aircraft handler.

Jacob Lewis, now aged 25, will serve on the flight decks of UK warships and their support ships as a Naval Airman after completing intensive training at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose at Helston, Cornwall.

Not for the faint-hearted, Jacob has undergone extensive training, including training in rescue and firefighting, and will have the dangerous job of working on exposed flight decks in all weathers to manoeuvre aircraft.

After qualifying Jacob commented: “I joined the Royal Navy as I felt it would give me the opportunity to do something greater than staying at home. My uncle, who is also serving in the navy, took me to his base when I was young and that is where my journey to join the Royal Navy began.

“The best part of my training was the firefighting with breathing apparatus – it was physical and hard-going. I am looking forward now to gaining more qualifications and travelling the world.”

On Friday 26 June, a special ceremony was held at the air station where 16 successful students passed into the ranks of the Aircraft Handlers’ Branch to begin their careers on front-line service.

Commanding Officer of the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations, Lieutenant Commander Billy Benton, commented: “I’d like to congratulate all the men and women of this qualifying course who have shown the determination and qualities to become a naval airman aircraft handler.

“Many will go on to serve on the flight decks of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth or HMS Prince of Wales. Each also passes into the prestigious Aircraft Handlers’ Branch.

“Although we have been unable to invite the students’ families and friends to witness the parade due to the coronavirus lockdown, I am confident that their nearest and dearest will share my feelings of pride at their success and join me in wishing them the very best in their future careers. Well done all.”

Now referred to as ‘Naval Airman Lewis’, Jacob’s career as an aircraft handler will begin on the amphibious transport ship HMS Albion.