Stellar commendation for Shropshire air base graduates from astronaut Tim Peake

British astronaut Colonel Tim Peake has presented graduates at the county's RAF base with their flying badges.

Colonel Tim Peake addresses graduates and guests at the No.1 Flying Training School
Colonel Tim Peake addresses graduates and guests at the No.1 Flying Training School

Col Peake, who spent 185 days in space on an expedition to the International Space Station, was the reviewing officer at the Number 1 Flying Training School (No.1 FTS) graduation at RAF Shawbury.

Addressing the 23 graduates he spoke of his pride at their achievements.

Col Peake has previously trained at the base and graduated as a qualified helicopter instructor from its Central Flying School (Helicopter) Squadron.

The graduation parade celebrated the successful completion of flying training for 17 pilots, two aircrewman and four weapon system operators.

Not even the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus could dampen the spirits as they proudly marched on to the parade to receive their flying badges and certificates, in front of their instructors and colleagues.

Graduates from the ceremony with Colonel Tim Peake. From left, Capt Sharples, Capt Spencer, Lt Col Pearce, Lt Gibbett, Capt Kane, Col Peake, Capt Forrester, Capt Jessup, Gp Capt Wadlow, Sgt McSweeney and Capt Reynolds.

Col Peake CMG, a former Army helicopter pilot, was recently appointed Honorary Colonel of 9 Regiment Army Air Corps (9AAC) by HM The Queen.

The prestigious regiment is the Battlefield Helicopter Wing within No. 1 FTS and delivers advanced helicopter performance techniques and tactical training to the trainee pilots, crewman and observers from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.

Speaking to the graduates Col Peake said: “What a wonderful honour to present the wings today; it took me back to my own wings parade and I know how much this day means to them.

Graduates from the ceremony with Colonel Tim Peake. From left, Lt Col Pearce, Leading Hand Simms, Sgt Watson, Sgt Blay, Col Peake, Sgt Field, Leading Hand Hooper, Gp Capt Wadlow and Sgt Thorne.

"I am very proud of what they have achieved, and they should be rightly proud as well. This is the culmination of a huge amount of effort and something they have been working towards for many years. I am excited for them all; they have great careers ahead of them and a really exciting journey.”

Col Peake received a warm welcome to the base from the Commanding Officer of 9AAC, Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Pearce AAC, who was delighted to show the former astronaut the training now being delivered to the next generation of military aircrew in the Duke of Cambridge Building.

Lt Col Pearce said: “It was an honour to welcome our Honorary Colonel to 9AAC for the first time. With his background in both space and aviation, he will be an excellent ambassador and an inspiration to the trainee aircrew starting out in their careers. The Regiment is looking forward to a long and successful association with Colonel Peake.”

Graduates from the ceremony with Colonel Tim Peake. From left, Flt Lt Letcher, Flt Lt Bell, Lt Col Pearce, Flt Lt Pain, Flt Lt Smerdon, Col Peake, Flt Lt Soroya, Lt George, Flt Lt Davidson, Gp Capt Wadlow, Flt Lt Curry and Lt Gallimore.

Also, in attendance at the graduation, was the Commandant of No. 1 FTS, Group Captain Phil Wadlow ADC BEng (Hons) MA RAF.

He said: “Congratulations to all those graduating today. This is a very special occasion for these talented aircrew who have performed superbly throughout their training, despite the challenges of Covid-19. I wish them good luck in their future careers as they join their Operational Conversion Units and then on towards the front line."

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