It fell to 26-year-old pilot Lieutenant Luke Wraith from Yorkshire to set the 14-tonne helicopter safely down on the aircraft carrier, just days after she left Rosyth to begin trials in the North Sea.
He had a four-acre flight deck – almost the size of three football pitches – to aim for, where experienced aircraft handlers were waiting to guide him safely in and then lash the helicopter firmly down.
“I was pretty nervous – not about making a safe landing, but knowing that every other pilot in the Navy would watch the footage and critique it,” said Lt Wraith, of 820 Naval Air Squadron.
“I’m actually quite surprised it ended up being me because I only got my flying wings 18 months ago – I was expecting it to be someone much more senior.”
Watching the historic landing from the ship’s ‘aircraft control tower’ – called the Flyco – in the rear of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s two islands was the man in charge of all her flying operations, Commander Mark Deller.
His team trained around the world – on simulators, on US Navy carriers and on a mock-up flight deck at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall – to ensure they were ready for the first helicopter.