Years of hard work has helped a local man earn his wings from a top Royal Air Force flight school.
Twenty seven year old Flight Lieutenant David Bellamy, of Baldrine, graduated as a pilot in July from the RAF’s Number 1 Flying Training School based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in York, alongside eight other officers.
Flt Lt Bellamy received his pilot’s wings from Air Commodore Ian Vallely, the chief of staff of Air Command. The distinctive badge is the mark of military training and qualification and an important milestone in any pilot’s career.
Describing it as ‘the proudest day of my life’, Flt Lt Bellamy said: ‘I’m pleased to finally be able to wear a pair of wings after all the hard work, sweat, stress and sleepless nights over the last five years’.
He joined the RAF after university in 2009 and graduated from the RAF College at Cranwell as a commissioned officer in the flying branch in April 2010. Based on his performance during elementary flying training, he was selected to fly fast jets and was promoted to Flight Lieutenant.
He commenced basic fast jet training in May 2013 and has since gained over 150 hours of flight time, both day and night, learning basic fast jet tactics.
He said that one of his career highlights so far has been flying a Hawk aircraft over the island and his old school, King William’s College:
‘It was watching fast jets flying over King William’s that first made me think about joining the RAF, so getting to do it myself had a great feeling of coming full-circle.’
Flt Lt Bellamy will be posted to the United States in October where he will be working with the US Air Force to support operations in Afghanistan.
On his return to the UK his goal is to fly the F-35 Lightning II, also known as the joint strike fighter, off the decks of the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. At the graduation ceremony, Bellamy was also presented with a silver sixpence dating from 1945 by group captain David Cooper, the station commander at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.
The sixpence is sewn behind a fighter pilot’s wings in a tradition that began during the Battle of Britain. It allowed a pilot who had been shot down over southern England to either buy a pint of ale or ring back to base!