Flying helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy is a childhood dream come true for Lieutenant Commander Michael Hardy.

As a boy living in Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales, near the home of Navy’s Fleet Air Arm at HMAS Albatross, Lieutenant Commander Hardy grew up watching Westland Sea King and Douglas A4 Skyhawk aircraft fly overhead.

“So I always wanted to be a Navy pilot,” he said.

Leap forward 38 years after joining the Navy and Lieutenant Commander Hardy’s career has taken off.

The reservist is a test pilot with Navy’s Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Test Unit (AMAFTU).

In his civilian role, he is also a test pilot with one of the most prestigious aircraft manufacturers in the world.

He has more than 5000 flying hours in the unit flying military helicopters, such as the MH-60 Romeo and the UH-60 Blackhawk.

He is also currently embarked in HMAS Adelaide as part of first-of-class flight trials.

The trials off the Queensland coast determine the safe operating limits of the MH-60R on the ship in a range of sea states and wind speeds, by day and by night.

“My civilian job is very similar to what I do at AMAFTU. I just travel a lot more and test-fly helicopters of other military forces,” he said.

“I conduct experimental, production and maintenance flight testing, as well as providing pilot training on Sikorsky Sea Hawks, including the MH-60R and UH-60M Blackhawks.”

Lieutenant Commander Hardy said his career had taken him all around the world.

“There are a lot of highlights, including deploying to Somalia in 1993 and flying a Sea King in Mogadishu for four months,” Lieutenant Commander Hardy said.

Adelaide is Navy’s high readiness vessel. The trials ensure the ship and crew preserve their readiness for national security and disaster response tasks.