Pilot flies in for treat to his former school

Lieutenant Ian Brannighan.
Lieutenant Ian Brannighan.
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A Royal Navy pilot made a special trip back to his former North Shields school.

Lieutenant Ian Brannighan took his own Lynx Mark 8 helicopter to St Thomas More Academy last Thursday to give pupils a chance to look around the machine.

Earlier in the day he had landed on the roof of Newcastle’s RVI where youngsters from the Percy Hedley Foundation got to look around it.

Ian – who attended St Thomas More from 1990 to 1997 – and his navigator Lieutenant Alex Tuckwood are currently assigned to HMS Dauntless and will deploy later this year to the Gulf.

“This was a real privilege for me,” said 35-year-old Ian, who also attended Star of the Sea Primary School in Monkseaton.

“I have tried on numerous occasions to visit St Thomas More Academy with the Lynx helicopter. I remember a similar visit when I was at the school and it definitely leaves a lasting impression.

“This was the first time I’ve managed to get back to the school where my brother, my sister and I were all educated and where it all started for me so it was particularly special to achieve this as well as support the efforts of increasing awareness of the Royal Navy.”

Lieutenant Ian Brannighan joined the Navy in 2002 and by 2006 was flying Lynx helicopters on the front line from frigates and destroyers with 815 Naval Air Squadron.

His career to date has involved flying on operations in the Gulf in HMS Edinburgh, RFA Cardigan Bay and RFA Fort Austin and has taken him as far as Singapore and Malaysia.

In 2010 he qualified as a helicopter instructor and spent three years teaching at the Lynx Training Squadron (702 NAS) where he also flew for the Royal Navy Helicopter Display team (The ‘Black Cats’) for the 2012 season.

To date outside of flying Lynx, Ian has also learned to ski, represented the air station at football, is a member of the Royal Navy Triathlon Organisation, has spent six months in New Zealand on exchange and has learned to drive the two-man bobsleigh in Calgary.

Ian currently lives in Somerset with his wife and two children.