This is the remarkable story of one man’s service in the Royal Navy, RAF and the Royal Naval Reserve Air Branch of the Fleet Air Arm. It is a flying career which lasted for an impressive 51 years and in which Warrant Officer Class 1 John Sheldon amassed over 8,000 hours in the air.
Having joined the Royal Navy in 1968, as a fifteen-year-old boy entrant not long out of school, John was recruited into the Fleet Air Arm as a junior electrician. He went on to become a Commando Aircrewman and flew in all types of service helicopters and in all of their roles, from Arctic training in Norway to the balmy Mediterranean and the wilds of Canada.
Having initially been involved in the evacuation of Cyprus and the Turkish invasion in 1974, in which his helicopter had to recover bodies from the water with a sprawl net, John went on to serve in Northern Ireland, was deployed to the South Atlantic in the Falklands War, where he operated from HMS Fearless and helped lift survivors from the RFA Sir Galahad tragedy, undertook a tour in Lebanon, and then saw action during the First Gulf War, in Bosnia, Sierra Leone and then in Afghanistan.
In his extraordinary career, John was tasked with going around the UK undertaking aerial displays to support recruitment campaigns for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, as well as completing several tours as a Search and Rescue Aircrewman, Anti-Submarine Operator and also as an RN/RAF Test Aircrewman at the Rotary Wing Test Squadron at Boscombe Down.
This unique memoir covers the military action that John encountered, the many incidents and close shaves he was involved in and the friends he lost during his long and illustrious career.
About John Sheldon
JOHN SHELDON was a Fleet Air Arm, RAF and Test Helicopter Aircrewman during his five decades of service. He has experienced helicopter operations and conflicts conducted in the Arctic, through most of Europe, the Middle East, America and down to the Falklands, clocking up over 8,000 flying hours. John was a Qualified Aircrew Instructor, Helicopter Tactics, NVG and MCT Instructor; he has also worked alongside many nations’ Special Forces groups. His last 11 years of service were in the Royal Naval Reserve Air Branch, where he continued to Instruct regular service Aircrewmen on the Commando Helicopter Operational training course.Published 28 February 2022