When Chris Southworth made a flying visit to his old primary school the day went down in history as one pupils will definitely remember.
For the Royal Navy pilot took a break from his duties yesterday to land his Lynx helicopter in the grounds of The Willows Catholic Primary School in Kirkham, near Preston.
When Chris, now a Lieutenant, learned he was going to be on an exercise in the area he rang his mum Shirley Wilson, who is deputy head at the school.
The visit was kept a secret from the children but just before the aircraft was due to land the whole school turned out in force.
Shirley said: “ “We told the children there was a surprise visitor and to bring some wellies to go on the school field, so there was lots of excitement when the helicopter appeared on the horizon.”
Chris, who left The Willows 25 years ago, said: “I have very fond memories of my time at school so when I found out we were on exercise in the area and my bosses would give permission for us to land on the school grounds
I was really pleased.“
I’ve not been back since I was about 10 so rang my mum immediately. She was pleased but then warned me not to mess up the landing.”
He added: “To fly over Kirkham and then spot all the pupils waving was a real thrill.
“We often land the Lynx on the back of a small ship so landing on the school field was not too difficult.
“The children gave us a really warm welcome and it was great to see my mum again. “She gave me a tour of the school which was really interesting. Some parts have changed but it still has the same family feel.
Shirley added: “The faces of the children were amazing and they could see Chris and the crew waving out of the window.”
She said the whole erupted into a cheer when she gave her son a big hug as he climbed out of the helicopter..
“I showed him round the school. It’s had lots of work of work done and we have new uniforms, but he remembered some of the classrooms.
The proud mum said the children the children were “buzzing for the rest of the day.”