“I was born in Woolwich, east London, to West Indian parents who had migrated to the Britain in the early 1960s. I grew up in a pretty tough housing estate but I attended the Grammar School in Dartford and worked hard. In 1985, I joined the RAF as an officer in the RAF Regiment, but I subsequently transferred to aircrew and, in 1987, started my flying training at RAF Swinderby. I received my wings at RAF Valley the following year and, after coming top of the Tactical Weapons course, I was posted as a fighter pilot flying Jaguars. I eventually joined 54 Squadron at RAF Coltishall.
The first time I flew the Jaguar with 1000lb bombs and the guns fully armed with high explosive bullets, I could not believe that a lad from east London was authorised to bomb and strafe a deserted island in a multi-million pound single-seat fighter aircraft.
My tour on Jaguars was eventful as the Squadron was deployed several times to Turkey flying missions over the ‘no-fly zone’ in North Iraq. We also operated from Southern Italy, flying in support of NATO forces when the Bosnian conflict started.
After my time on 54 Squadron, I completed the flight instructors’ course at RAF Scampton. I was then posted to RAF Linton-on-Ouse, instructing student pilots on the Tucano aircraft. I left the RAF as a Flight Lieutenant in 1997 to join British Airways and I am currently an Airbus Captain.
I consider myself to have been a very ordinary London kid who was trained by the RAF to do very extraordinary things.”
(RAF Museum Collection, Crown Copyright)