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We are embarked for about 6 months // Humans of NATO Days

19.03.2023, 18:30

Germany has a strong presence at the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days every year. Whether it's the Air Force, Army, or Navy, visitors have plenty to look at. Last year, the Sea Lynx helicopter was on a static display among other German aircraft. And we interviewed its pilot and at the same time the flight commander of the German Navy, Commander Tom Schneider.

What led you to become a Navy pilot? 
For my whole lifetime, since I was a child, I wanted to become a pilot and it was a way to fulfil my dream. So, I did. 

And why did you choose the Navy? 
It doesn’t make any difference. I applied for the Armed Forces and the Navy took me, so I’m in the Navy now. But I could have ended up in the Air Force as well. The Armed Forces made the decision. 


What are the conditions to join the Navy if you are a German soldier? 
If you want to be a Navy officer, of course you have to apply for it first. And second, you have to apply to be a pilot. It’s more or less at the same time, so it’s one application for both. And then you run through several assessments that you have to pass. You have to be medically, physically and  psychologically able to become an officer.

Read also interviews with other people participating at NATO Days

The Sea Lynx helicopter is made for hunting submarines. What is your job description as its pilot?
My job, or the job of the anti-submarine warfare helicopter crew, is especially locating and fighting submarines in the northern region. That’s where we operate normally. 

How is your job different in comparison with other pilots? 
We operate the helicopters from our German Navy frigates, so we are a part of the ship, we are not land-based, we are ship-based. That is the most challenging and specific part of the job. Compared to that, the army helicopters are land-based, but we are on ships. It makes it quite interesting. 

How much time do you spend on the sea? 
Normally we are embarked for about 6 months, and the rest of the year we are at our Navy land-base at Nordholz in northern Germany. That’s where we do our land flying. But 50 % of the time we are on the sea. 

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