A FORMER Warrington and Vale Royal College student has completed the tough training needed to serve on the flight deck of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers.

Thomas Burgess has now qualified as a naval airman and will go on to serve on the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The 21-year-old said he joined the navy because he wanted a challenge.

Despite the old-fashioned job title, airmen can be both men and women in today’s Royal Navy.

Their job is on the flight deck, helping secure, manoeuvre and manage the ship’s aircraft.

Airmen are also trained in firefighting and emergency rescue in case of crashes.

Working on exposed decks at any time of the day and night, and dealing with live aircraft is arguably one of the most dangerous jobs in the navy.

In total, 11 men and women recently completed their training at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in west Cornwall.

Friends and family were invited to a special ceremony where they were handed their certificates and naval airmen badges by Commodore David Elford.

It means they officially pass into the Royal Navy’s Aircraft Handlers’ Branch, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

In charge of their training was lieutenant commander Billy Benton, the commanding officer of the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations, who said: “We now welcome into the Aircraft Handlers’ Branch these 11 new naval airmen who have all completed their training at Culdrose.

“These men and women will now go on to serve on ships around the world, many on the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers.

"They will be playing an instrumental role in allowing aviation at sea including the ability to launch Britain’s new F35 Lightning jets.

“It is an exciting time to be in the Royal Navy and we wish them all the best as they continue their careers.”

Naval airmen serve on the decks of the Royal Navy’s largest warships, the aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, as well as Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships and other navy warships.