A ROYAL Navy sailor has completed his tough training to become an aircraft handler and is preparing to start his career on the front-line.

Sam Drummey, from Darlington, will go on to serve on the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales.

The 20-year-old is a former pupil of Hummersknott Academy, where he studied before going to Darlington College.

He is now a qualified naval airman after completing the intensive training programme, which includes firefighting and rescue operations, at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose at Helston, Cornwall

He has passed out in a special ceremony at the station.

Naval Airman Drummey said: “I joined the navy to travel the world and gain new skills.

"I really enjoyed learning firefighting and I am looking forward now to joining my first ship.”

The sixteen new naval airmen airman – an old-fashioned term which nowadays includes both men and women – will go onto serve on the flight decks of UK warships and their support ships.

Due to coronavirus restriction, the families and friends of the newly qualified airmen were unable to attend the event.

Aircraft handlers have a dangerous job working on exposed flight decks in all weathers to manoeuvre aircraft.

They also have to train in rescue and firefighting in case of emergencies.

It takes six months at the station in Cornwall to qualify for the demanding role.

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

Lieutenant Commander Billy Benton, the commanding officer of the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations, wished the new airmen well in their future careers.

He said: “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.”