Royal Naval Museum


Lei Parsons

Name: Lei Parsons

Rank:  Rating (Aircraft Engineer Trainee)

When did you join the Navy?
I joined the navy on the 5th May 2006.

Why did you join the Navy?
The main reason I joined the navy was because it gave me a career that suited the way I am.  Also, the opportunities of new things that it can provide, like adventurous training, or the skill of learning new subjects or improving old ones.

How many ships have you served on and what were their names?
I haven't served on any ships since joining the Navy.  However because I am with the fleet air arm and based with 702 squadron at HMS Heron I have been given the opportunities for short training excursions on the Ark Royal, RFA Argus and various type 23’s.

Where are you now?

I am currently based at HMS Heron on 702 Squadron, a training squadron for pilots and engineers.

What's your current job?
I am currently an AET1, working on Mark 3 and Mark 8 lynx.

What training or exams do you need to do your job?
For my job I have had to pass through initial training at HMS Raleigh, from which I start my job training with 6 months at HMS Sultan in Gosport. 

During Sultan, I had to complete lots of exams, almost 1 every week.  At Sultan you learn the basics to make sure you're safe to work on aircraft.  However at HMS Heron or whichever base you decide to go to, there are more intense exams, that are aircraft specific before you are allowed to start work. 

This phase also lasts around 6 months, but you complete a taskbook that follows your progress as you finish jobs.  At the end of the training period or if you complete your task book within good time, there are three final exams that test your overall knowledge.  If you pass these exams, then you are 'qualified to maintain' the aircraft (QM).  Along with this comes a week of admin work in which you learn how to complete the necessary paper work and if you pass the week then you have achieved a 'qualified to sign' award (QS).  So at the end of the training period you are QM/QS.

How many people do you look after every day?
Everyone looks after each other.  The experienced AETs look after the newly qualified with the most recent qualified looking after the trainees and helping them through their task book completion.  We have leading hands looking after us and senior supervisors looking after them.

What do you do on a typical day?
On a typical day I might service the aircraft and launch it.  But because there is no real typical day, every day brings up something new like an engine change or a broken radar that needs to be fixed before the aircraft can fly.

What is the best and the worst thing about being in the Navy?

The best thing about the Navy would have to be the different people that you meet.  It's an eye opener to the world, to find out how others live and act are almost always different to what you have been used to.  

The worst thing, definitely for me, is the waiting around before you can go to sea.  This suits others, but there’s a whole different navy at sea, compared to a squadron like 702.

What’s the best place you have visited with the Navy?

I haven’t really been anywhere with the navy directly yet.  However I did use my time and the money that the Navy gave me to go to Australia and do a conservation project.

What was your funniest or most interesting moment?

The funniest moments of my naval career so far were my initial days of training at HMS Raleigh.  This is so because of how new it was.  Also the friends you make and will always remember.
What would you be doing if you weren't in the Navy?

If I wasn’t in the navy, I would probably be at university, getting myself into a lot of debt with a degree that I wasn’t happy with, and not having the same life experience that the Navy gives me.

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