Helicopter Instructor Reaches Flying Milestone

Helicopter Instructor Reaches Flying Milestone 23 Apr, 13, Source: RAF

A Qualified Helicopter Instructor with the Central Flying School (Helicopters) at RAF Shawbury has achieved a flying milestone in passing an incredible 6000 hours of flying.

Flight Lieutenant Jim Hobkirk is a Qualified Helicopter Instructor with Central Flying School (Helicopters) at the unit. He spends his days training future Qualified Helicopter Instructor pilots on the Squirrel helicopter, completing the essential training over the skies of Shropshire.

Jim completed Secondary Education at Stamford School in 1988 and undertook Initial Officer Training at Cranwell before training as a pilot. His early service saw him operate the Westland Wessex in Northern Ireland on Operation BANNER from 1991. In 1994 he was posted to HQ 1 Gp as a Mobile Air Operations Team Leader during which time he served in the Balkans on Operations GRAPPLE and HAMPDEN. In 1998 he converted to the Boeing Chinook on which he served all over the world including again in the Balkans on Operation PALETINE, and in Sierra Leone on Operation PALLISER. In 2002 he trained as a Qualified Helicopter Instructor at RAF Shawbury where he then served on the Defence Helicopter Flying School on 60(R) Sqn flying the Bell 412 Griffin. Following the award of his A2 QHI category he was posted in 2005 to the Support Helicopter Standards and Evaluating unit as the Chinook Pilot, where he was responsible for operational and instructional standards on the RAF Chinook force in particular, but the wider Support Helicopter force as a whole. During this time he also served in Iraq on Operation TELIC on the AgustaWestland Merlin and in Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK on the Chinook. He was posted in 2008 to 32(The Royal) Sqn onto the AgustaWestland 109E operating in the VIP and Communications role.

In 2011 he returned to the instructional field on posting to the Central Flying School (Helicopter) Sqn operating the Eurocopter Squirrel, where he teaches front line helicopter pilots of all three services to instruct. Hobkirk is posted in June 2013 to the Central Flying School Exam Wing where he will assess and standardise the instructional standards of all Tri-Service helicopter instructors and those of selected other national armed forces. He is married to Sue (a SSAFA Coordinator and Caseworker) and has 5 children and 3 grandchildren. His interests include walking, gardening and rugby.

Flt Lt Hobkirk received his special certificate, marking his milestone, from the Officer Commanding CFS (H), Lieutenant Commander Neil ‘Donny’ Gamble.

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