A veteran weapon systems officer on Tornado GR4’s at RAF Lossiemouth has passed through the stunning milestone of reaching 5000 flying hours.
Chris Stradling has been flying the same aircraft type for the last 27 years and unsurprisingly is the most experienced Weapons System Operator still flying.
The XV(R) Squadron flight lieutenant reached his 5000th hour in the air during the same sortie that his Lossiemouth colleague Flight Lieutenant Stuart Alexander racked up 2000 flying hours since first taking a Tornado seat in 2003.
It is unusual for modern air crews to clock up 5000 flying hours in the era of synthetic (simulated) training.
Flight Lieutenant Stradling said: “My current role as an instructor with XV(Reserve) Squadron gives me an opportunity to instruct new pilots in the various skills required to operate the Tornado.
“I also still really enjoy the thrill of flying and operating the Tornado, and the chance to see Scotland from a completely different aspect.
“The flight that clocked up the actual 5000th hour was flown in support of a Staff Instructional sortie. It involved some medium level practise attacks followed by a short period of low level and a practise gun attack at Tain Air Weapons Range.
“Both crews were aware of the significance of the sortie and were deliberately crewed together in order to celebrate the milestone.
“The Squadron Boss normally meets the crews after such a trip (if he is available) but it is most unusual for the Station Commander to attend.”
Both Flight Lieutenant Alexander and Flight Lieutenant Stradling will continue as instructors with XV(Reserve) Squadron for the foreseeable future.