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FB: RNAS Culdrose: Lt Cdr Andrew ‘Tank’ Murray Clocks In Excess Of A Year – A Staggering 8,760 Hours - In The Air

soleil

War Hero
"Royal Navy helicopter pilot Lt Cdr Andrew ‘Tank’ Murray has clocked in excess of a year – a staggering 8,760 hours in the air – more than any other regular member of the Navy.

His service includes 8 years flying Search and Rescue helicopters around Scotland and Cornwall –including the Boscastle disaster- 5 tours of Afghanistan, tours in Iraq and Sierra Leone, as well as deployments around the world. Naval Air Squadrons include 814, 706, 810, 820, 849, 771 and 857 with roles in airborne early warning, anti-submarine warfare and Search and Rescue.

“Everyone calls me Tank,” said Lieutenant Commander Murray, who has a dry sense of humour, adding: “I actually have a tank driving licence - but mostly I get the name because I am a big lad.

“As far as I am aware, I’m the only regular in the Royal Navy with this many hours. I just love flying helicopters. It’s like having your own rollercoaster, as you’ve got that freedom in three dimensions.”

Lieutenant Commander Murray joined the Royal Navy as a pilot just before his 21st birthday and has spent the bulk of his career in Sea Kings, having only recently converted to Merlin Mk2 helicopters.

He is a qualified instructor and now works as a staff pilot at 824 Naval Air Squadron, the training unit at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, where he shares his experience with the new generation of aircrew.

He said: “When you compare them, they are different aircraft. In a Sea King, you’re much more involved in flying whereas you are more managing the Merlin. The Sea King is better in the hover but not as good at speed.

“My first love will always be the Sea King. I’ve spent enough time in it that it’s like a favourite pair of slippers. The Merlin is more like a pair of new shoes.”

Of all his time in the air, Lieutenant Commander Murray said his years spent in Search and Rescue were the most challenging and rewarding.

He has flown 406 rescue missions over five years with the red and grey Sea Kings of 771 Naval Air Squadron in Cornwall and three years flying from HMS Gannet all over Scotland.

“I miss Search and Rescue,” he said. “That was the best job I’ve done. It’s almost like being in a war, but not being in a war obviously.

We’d be at Culdrose on duty and usually we’d have 15 minutes to get airborne from the call – and we never took that long. Then we’d set off with the most basic information about an emergency.

“Then you’d get there and it’s not what you expect and you’d have to improvise. It’s like a captaincy check where they just keep throwing problem after problem at you.

“No matter the weather, you always go and do the best you can. I lot of the worst jobs, as a pilot, were those in blizzards, again usually in Scotland.

“I remember once, we’d picked up a woman who’d had a brain haemorrhage. We were flying down the valleys towards Glasgow and a sudden snow storm blew up – I couldn’t see more than 40-feet and I couldn’t see the cliffs. I couldn’t go up as there was a danger of icing-up.

“We just had to hover for about ten minutes until it cleared. The nurse we’d picked up said the woman was going to die if she didn’t get to hospital and I said: ‘If we fly anywhere in this, we’re all going to die’.”

Lieutenant Commander Murray also flew the fourth helicopter to arrive at Boscastle in Cornwall, which was devasted by a flash flood in 2004.

“I was at home and was watching all this happening on TV,” he said. “I rang in to Culdrose and asked if we were going and we got an extra crew together. When we got over the village, we checked some of the cars that were washed out to sea and we helped take a woman to hospital.”

He said his flying time has not been without its share of trouble in the air, adding: “I’ve been on fire and I’ve had to make an emergency landing after a gearbox oil dump – twice actually.

“It happened once in the United Arab Emirates in 2018 and we were forced to suddenly put down in the car park of a five-star hotel. The other time it happened, we managed to land at short notice in a pub car park on the Isle of Arran.

“We caught fire once in the Indian Ocean. We were working off Invincible at Diego Garcia and I was doing circuits of the airfield when the control tower came on and said: ‘you do know you’re on fire?’. We had to land quickly.”

“I’ve had every problem you could think of in the Sea King. The only thing I haven’t done is ditch at sea, and I don’t want to be part of that club thank you very much.”

Lieutenant Commander Murray will continue to serve in the Royal Navy until just before his 60th birthday. He lives in Helston with his wife Tania and their three children."

 
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Alfacharlie

War Hero
There has been chat recently at how little sea time anyone serving in the FAA will get or has got.
I see that even Andrew approaching his 60th year with service from 1986 to present has only managed one ship.
He served on HMS Illustrious in1999. He will know HMS's Gannet, Heron and Seahawk well though. He lives at Helston now.
Smashing..
 

Waspie

War Hero
There has been chat recently at how little sea time anyone serving in the FAA will get or has got.
I see that even Andrew approaching his 60th year with service from 1986 to present has only managed one ship.
He served on HMS Illustrious in1999. He will know HMS's Gannet, Heron and Seahawk well though. He lives at Helston now.
WTF are you on about???
As for the reference to Andrew. Royals only play at being in the services. (Harry may be the exception to the rule).
And your last sentence makes no sense at all.
 

redmonkey

Lantern Swinger
Book Reviewer
There has been chat recently at how little sea time anyone serving in the FAA will get or has got.
I see that even Andrew approaching his 60th year with service from 1986 to present has only managed one ship.
He served on HMS Illustrious in1999. He will know HMS's Gannet, Heron and Seahawk well though. He lives at Helston now.


What a load of bullshit.

If you are on about Tank Murray have a look at the squadrons he has served on.
814, 706, 810, 820, 849, 771 and 857. 706 was a training squadron but all those starting with an 8 went to sea and I am sure that in his time he went to sea on more than Illustrious in 1999.
I am sure that i have been to sea with him.

As to sea time being a wafu does not mean you don't go to sea. I have 2500ish sea days.
 

Alfacharlie

War Hero
What a load of bullshit.

If you are on about Tank Murray have a look at the squadrons he has served on.
814, 706, 810, 820, 849, 771 and 857. 706 was a training squadron but all those starting with an 8 went to sea and I am sure that in his time he went to sea on more than Illustrious in 1999.
I am sure that i have been to sea with him.

As to sea time being a wafu does not mean you don't go to sea. I have 2500ish sea days.
And that doesn’t include the Torpoint ferry either.
 

Waspie

War Hero
What a load of bullshit.

If you are on about Tank Murray have a look at the squadrons he has served on.
814, 706, 810, 820, 849, 771 and 857. 706 was a training squadron but all those starting with an 8 went to sea and I am sure that in his time he went to sea on more than Illustrious in 1999.
I am sure that i have been to sea with him.

As to sea time being a wafu does not mean you don't go to sea. I have 2500ish sea days.
As a Wafu, I can say in my last 14 years, all my squadrons had an 8 prefix!!!As for sea time!!! Ask my wife!! 1986, 34 days at home port. Not home, just home port. She flew at her sister once when she was having a whingex about poor hubby having to go away for 5 days!!! Standing joke in our house, Wife replies, "5 days!!! I wouldn't even notice Mr W was missing!!!!
 
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