I served for 33 years in the RAF, in the Air Traffic Control, Air & Squadron Operations and Mission Support roles. I played competitive Rugby at Station and Group level, Cricket at club level for fun and raced Karts at Station, RAF & Inter Services also.
My last job was as 2 i/c The Mission Support Cell at RAF Brize Norton; this was a newly created post as unlike RAF Lyneham, RAF Brize Norton had no Mission Support Capability, Gulf War 1 had been, and so The Station Commander tasked me and a small team with creating one.
I retired in May 2005.
My time involved with No.1(F) RAF Harrier Sqn was from November 1979 when I was posted to it, on promotion from 233 (Harrier) OCU, Operational Conversion Unit. I was awarded an AOC’s in C’s Commendation for my work on the OCU.
During my time there I met and helped train Harrier Pilots from The Royal Navy, Indian Navy, Spanish Matadores and RAF, great experience before arriving at 1(F)Sqn.
During 1979, 80 & 81 we deployed to Norway, Turkey, Denmark, Canada, France, Portugal, Germany, Sardinia, USA and aboard RN Flat top Carriers, prior to 1982, only 1(F) Sqn RAF pilots were trained to deploy with the RN at sea, support Royal Marines Exercises and Operations. The Royal Navy at the outbreak of Op Corporate had roughly half the Pilots they needed to man the new Sea Harrier FRS1, there role was to Patrol the skies over the RN Fleet, providing CAP’S (Combat Air Patrols) often from Cockpit Readiness, on deck, as decided by Flying Control onboard either HMS Hermes, HMS Invincible and later HMS Illustrious; hence the urgent need for trained numbers of RAF Pilots that flew on Naval Air Squadrons 800, 801 during the Falkand Islands conflict. 6 x Harriers were lost during the conflict.
As a Sqn we only got back to Wittering in early Nov 1982, not much fanfare by then; due to the reluctant release of assets from RAF(G) Germany & elsewhere to replace us, and the slow fitting of a RHAG (Rotary Hydraulic Arrestor Gear) and an extended runway to allow the RAF Phantoms to operate from Stanley Airfield, and provide QRA, (Quick Reaction Alert) to the islands. In March 1983I left 1(F)Sqn posted with my Wife and two children aged 2 and 3 I had rarely seen, to the sunshine of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus for 3 heavenly years.