Casdagli converted to a helicopter pilot, quickly becoming an instructor at 705 Naval Air Squadron, where he proved to be a calm and relaxed aviator; others considered themselves lucky to be one of his students. At an air day in Culdrose, Cornwall, it was announced that a raffle for a flight in a two-seater Hiller helicopter had been won by an elderly lady.
A figure in a robe and huge hat came forward and was strapped into the right seat by the pilot, but as he walked around the front of the plane to sit on the left seat, the plane leaped into the sky, the pilot threw himself on the ground and, with “granny” at the helm, the helicopter performed a dazzling aerobatics. Once it landed, “Granny” disappeared in an ambulance – little did the crowd know it was Casdagli in command.
He then commanded the ship’s flight in the destroyer Kent, before commanding first 705 Squadron, then 820 Squadron, flying anti-submarine helicopters Wessex in the aircraft carrier Eagle. Eagle covered the withdrawal from Aden in 1967, before deploying to the Far East and visiting Hong Kong and Australia.
Most of the drivers were on their first tour but, Bathurst recalls, “It was our wonderful luck to have Tony as our boss. He led from the front in a calm and unhurried manner, always fair, balanced and never ever trumped, although on many occasions it would have been entirely justified, but with his understanding of young people and his obvious professionalism they all adored him and found a listening ear It was a privilege to serve under Tony and I consider my time in 820 to be one of the happiest and most rewarding of my career – entirely due to his example and leadership.