Trainee hits landmark flying hours for Ascent

Ascent and UK Military Flying Training Systems (UKMFTS) are delighted to announce that Captain Rhuben Smith has helped them hit a landmark total of 125,000 syllabus flying hours for their trainees.

The 125,000th trainee flying hour since the inception of UKMFTS, was hit by Captain Smith of 670 Sqn AAC at RAF Shawbury, while on a night vision goggle low level training sortie. RAF Shawbury hosts one of the six UKMFTS training sites.

Captain Smith, from Cambridge – who will be progressing onto the AH-64E at Middle Wallop – was delighted to have made the historic flight. It has been a childhood dream to become a pilot, and he says he enjoys the challenges that come with the training. He has taken a particular interest in the tactical elements of flying on the course, which allow trainees to work in pairs to achieve a mission task. 

This milestone has been reached thanks to Ascent and MOD operation teams working together across our seven UKMFTS aircraft, with 52,000 training hours being flown at RAF Shawbury as of May 2023.

“I am delighted to announce that Captain Smith has flown the 125,000th flying hour at 1 FTS, which is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of our people. It demonstrates the success of the enterprise, which is supported by the strong relationship we have with military staff and our industry partners at RAF Shawbury,” said Simon Vorley, Ascent General Manager at RAF Shawbury.

Ash Hubbard, Captain Smith’s instructor for the milestone flight, noted: “Captain Smith is one of many who are now benefiting from a course syllabus that has been fine-tuned and now includes low level night vision goggle training in preparation for their subsequent conversion onto front line.

“Further improvements are due to be made to this course soon, including formation flying at night, and this will only lead to a better standard of output of trainee from 1 FTS going forward.”

Tim James, Managing Director at Ascent, also congratulated Captain Smith on his achievement, citing the expertise, agility and responsiveness of the joint Ascent and MOD operational teams across the UK, along with key suppliers and partners, in making it possible.

“We achieve this milestone thanks to our industry colleagues who support us every day. This includes our key suppliers, Babcock International, Lockheed Martin, Affinity Flying Services, Airbus Helicopters UK and Draken Europe. Without their support, our partnership with our UKMOD customer would not succeed,” said Tim.

“The 125,000 flying hour reflects an accelerating annual total in the number of flying hours achieved by our trainees – the aviators of tomorrow. This has seen a substantial boost in recent, growing from around an annual 5,000 total flying hours in 2015, to 9,000 in 2018, to 24,000 in 2022. As of May 2023, we have now reached a total 132,000 flying hours to date, along with more than 90,000 sim hours.”

Photo: Crown Copyright