Former Louth pupil turns up to school ... in a Merlin helicopter!

Merlin Helicopter at KEVIGS, Louth.
Merlin Helicopter at KEVIGS, Louth.

Students at King Edward VI Grammar school were treated to a special ‘flying visit’ from a Royal Navy Merlin helicopter earlier this month.

It’s more accustomed to landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth, but the Merlin landed on the school field on March 5, and was piloted by former KEVIGS pupil Lt Larry Smith RN.

Merlin Helicopter at KEVIGS, Louth.

Merlin Helicopter at KEVIGS, Louth.

The aircraft, which belongs to 820 Naval Air Squadron based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall, had been able to make a special trip to the school as a tie-in with a training exercise conducted at RAF Donna Nook.

KEVIGS Air Cadets were joined by other aviation enthusiasts from 2292 Squadron Market Rasen Air Training Corps and the Elizabethan Academy Combined Cadet Force in Retford.

Cadets were able to speak with the pilots, aircrew and engineers, as well as climb aboard and see a real-life military aircraft up-close.

A dozen lucky cadets even had the opportunity to take a short flight in the aircraft to see Louth from above - which Year 11 student Cpl Alfie Williams dubbed ‘an incredibly inspirational experience’.

Merlin Helicopter at KEVIGS, Louth.

Merlin Helicopter at KEVIGS, Louth.

The visit was coordinated by Squadron Leader Paul Reeve, who described the aircraft as a ‘real spectacle’.

He said: “It was truly wonderful to make this opportunity available for the cadets and wider student body.

“It was fantastic to have one of our own KEVIGS ex-cadets, Lt Larry Smith RN, pilot the Merlin in, and hopefully by doing so he has inspired the next generation about what can be achieved.”

For head teacher James Lascelles, the visit was just one of many fantastic opportunities and experiences the school is committed to furnishing its students with.

Merlin Helicopter at KEVIGS, Louth.

Merlin Helicopter at KEVIGS, Louth.

He said: “The Merlin Helicopter visit was a real thrill for so many of our students.

“What that helicopter represents is our commitment to giving children the very best and most memorable opportunities that we can.”

Annabel Garrod was one of the lucky few pupils who headed up into the skies.

She said: “Getting the opportunity to fly in a Merlin was something I never thought I would be lucky enough to do.

“It was fascinating to see the Royal Navy aircrew at work both on the ground and in the air.

“Their work was inspiring and it is something I will always be humbled to have experienced during my time in the Combined Cadet Force.”

Squadron Leader Paul Reeve added: “A flight in a Merlin is something those outstanding young people will never forget – it was not your average school day and well worth all of the hard work!”