Mother’s grief at flyer’s sea death

The mother of a female Royal Navy flyer yesterday paid tribute to her daughter, who is missing presumed dead after her helicopter crashed while returning from an exercise in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lieutenant Jenny Lewis, 25, pictured, was acting as observer to pilot Lieutenant Rod Skidmore, 39, when their Lynx helicopter went down on Wednesday about 200 miles off the coast of Virginia in the US.

She is believed to be the first female pilot or observer to die while serving with the Royal Navy.

Lt Lewis’s mother, Jo, said that she and her family were devastated by the crash, which happened as the aircraft was returning to the Royal Navy warship HMS Richmond.

But Mrs Lewis, from the Isle of Wight, said: “It helps that she died doing the job she loved.”

Lt Lewis, who also served on HMS London and HMS Northumberland, had been in the Navy for four years and was always determined to fly, her mother said.

She was actively involved in the Newcastle University Royal Navy Unit as a student and was “fast-tracked” to complete her training early at the Dartmouth Naval Training College.

The Ministry of Defence said they believed the two flight staff had died but said a search operation to recover the missing crew members was still under way.

A third crew member who suffered minor injuries has been rescued.

Lt Skidmore, a married father-of-two, and Lt Lewis, who is single, were based at the Royal Naval Air Station in Yeovilton, Somerset.

The accident is under investigation.