HMS Queen Elizabeth visits Scapa Flow on Naval Aviation anniversary

A Merlin Helicopter from 820 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Culdrose, makes the first ever deck landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth

The Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier is expected to visit Scapa Flow today, 100 years to the day since a plane landed on the deck of a moving ship for the first time.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest warship ever built for the Navy, is currently undergoing sea trials after setting out from Rosyth dockyard in Fife in June.

Subject to operational requirements, the carrier is expected to pass Hoxa into Scapa Flow at around 7.30am Wednesday morning before heading for the waters off Swanbister.

It was here, on 2 August 1917, that a Sopwith Pup biplane flown by Squadron Commander Edwin Dunning touched down on the deck of HMS Furious as the warship steamed through the Flow.

The historic landing led directly to the development of the first aircraft carriers and was a hugely significant event in the history of naval aviation.

Tragically, Dunning lost his life a week later when attempting the feat again. This time his aircraft lost power, made a hard landing and was swept overboard by strong winds.

Commander Dunning making the first ever carrier deck landing on HMS Furious, in a Sopwith Pup on August 2 1917

HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to head from the Swanbister area for the waters off Scapa (close to the Royal Oak buoy) before leaving the Flow between 9 and 9.30am.

Later in the morning, a new plaque marking the centenary of his Dunning’s first landing will be unveiled at Scapa by Rear Admiral Fleet Air Arm Keith Blount, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Aviation, Amphibious Capability and Carriers).


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