40 Years of Military Aviation… and Still Flying
Readers of the last issue of LZDZ will have read about WO1 John Sheldon achieving 8,000 flying hours during his Service career. Only a few months later he passed a further milestone, having flown for 40 years of that career.
CO CHF, Capt Matt Briers RN, greeted WO1 Sheldon, as he arrived in his Sea King helicopter to celebrate his 40th anniversary of military aviation.
A member of the RNR Air Branch, he is an Aircrewman instructor on 848 NAS based at RNAS Yeovilton and is responsible for ensuring his student aircrewmen are ready for the rigours of life on a Front Line Junglie squadron.
John was just 15 years of age when he joined the Royal Navy in 1968 as an aircraft technician but after four years on the ‘shop floor’ decided life as a Rating Aircrew, as they were known at the time, would be more exciting. After completing his flying training in 1972 he joined his first Junglie Sqn flying the Wessex helicopter. Within 18 months he was deployed on his first Operational mission in Cyprus as his Sqn played a vital role in the extraction of UK citizens from the Island following the invasion by Turkish troops. A veteran of over seven conflicts from the Falklands to Afghanistan he has flown every type of UK military helicopter and has spent time with the Royal Navy, the RAF and has evaluated new and experimental aircraft at Boscombe Down.
Before celebrating with a bottle of bubbly, Capt Briers thanked WO1 Sheldon for his dedication throughout his distinguished career and commented on the variety of John’s operational deployments. He also presented John with a letter of congratulations from R/Adm Harding, Admiral in charge of the Fleet Air Arm and with a framed sketch picture of all the aircraft John has flown in his career.
John’s wife Cathy was also able to attend the celebrations along with their sons Kieran and Simon.
John was extremely pleased to be recognised in this way and commented on how lucky he is. ’I really enjoy my job and it’s great to be surrounded by a bunch of professional people who look forward to coming to work.’