Royal Navy helicopters, including two from RNAS Culdrose, will lead the historic flypast over Buckingham Palace for the King’s Coronation on Saturday.

Drawn from Fleet Air Arm squadrons, they will fly in the first section, immediately behind the military’s training helicopters.

In total 64 helicopters and aeroplanes from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force, including the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Red Arrows, will take part in the spectacular event over central London at 2.30pm.

Representing the Royal Navy will be a Wildcat Mk2 helicopter from RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, followed by a pair of submarine-hunting Merlin Mk2 helicopters from RNAS Culdrose.

Falmouth Packet: Lt James Firth of 820 NASLt James Firth of 820 NAS (Image: RNAS Culdrose)

Next in line will be a second Wildcat from the Commando Helicopter Force flanked by a two Royal Marine-transporting Merlin Mk4 helicopters.

The Merlin Mk2s come from the Merlin Helicopter Force, drawn together from 824, 820 and 814 Naval Air Squadrons, all based at Helston.

Lieutenant James Shrives is carrying on a family tradition as his grandfather, also an anti-submarine warfare pilot, was embarked in HMS Eagle during the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and took part in the ceremony.

Falmouth Packet: Merlin Mk2 from 820 NAS during Coronation Flypast rehearsal Merlin Mk2 from 820 NAS during Coronation Flypast rehearsal (Image: RNAS Culdrose)

He said: “It’s a great honour to be selected to take part in the Coronation Flypast and carrying on a family tradition. I’m looking forward to the flypast and celebrating our new King and Queen.”


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Commanding one of the Merlins is 44-year-old pilot Lieutenant Commander Paul ‘Jack’ Ryan, who said: “This is our chance to pay our respects to our new ‘commander-in-chief’ – we are after all His Majesty’s Armed Forces. I’ve flown over London before but not over The Mall and Buckingham Palace.”

Falmouth Packet: Lt Cdr Jack Ryan of 820 NASLt Cdr Jack Ryan of 820 NAS (Image: RNAS Culdrose)

Lieutenant James Firth, an airborne surveillance and control observer, added: “It’s very exciting. I am only six months into my first frontline tour and something like this is a once-in-a-career opportunity.”

The full flypast will take six minutes to pass overhead. With true military precision, the entire event is being coordinated and timed with a margin of just five seconds leeway.