A FORMER SPITFIRE and Hurricane pilot has officially taken command of Moray’s RAF base.
Group Captain Paul Godfrey can count three seasons at the controls of aircraft belonging to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on his CV.
Now he has taken over as station commander at RAF Lossiemouth in place of Mark Chappell, who ended his two-year association with the base on Friday.
Mark has been a popular figure around Moray since his arrival in 2013, overseeing an important time for RAF Lossiemouth as the base become the home for the Quick Reaction Alert force.
“It has been an honour to have served as the Station Commander at the Royal Air Force’s premier fast jet airbase,” Mark said, adding: “My time in post has seen enormous changes in a relatively short space of time – not least with the adoption of QRA and our continued support to global operations.
“My lasting memory of my time at RAF Lossiemouth will be of the excellent people who work there, and the professionalism that I have come to expect from them during my time in command. I would like to thank everyone for their hard work, high standards and excellent ‘can do’ attitude that has made the challenges we have faced together fulfilling and fun.”
Paul Godfrey has already enjoyed a distinguished RAF career that saw him at the controls of Harrier jets including a spell as an instructor at the Harrier Operational Conversion unit. He spent some time from 2000 on an exchange tour in the United States where he became the first non-USAF pilot to fly the iconic F-16CJ, serving with the 55th Fighter Squadron in South Carolina.
He was the OC Operations Wing at RAF Coningsby in 2011 and flew the Typhoon on detachments to Italy and Cyprus as chief of staff and CO of deployed expeditionary air wings, before flying the Spitfire, Hurricane and Chipmunk aircraft over his three seasons with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
On taking command on Friday, Group Captain Godfrey said: “It’s a huge privilege to be taking command of RAF Lossiemouth and I would like to thank Group Captain Chappell for his dedication and hard work over the last two years – he has left the Station in outstanding shape and at a very high level of readiness to conduct a wide range of operational activities.
“I intend to continue with the same passion and commitment over my tenure and will continue to learn as well as lead as it is the wide variety of units and people at RAF Lossiemouth – the Typhoon front line squadrons, Tornado Operational Conversion Unit, a regular and reserve RAF Regt squadron, and a Mountain Rescue Team – that make it so unique.
“Not having been based here previously, I have heard fantastic things about Moray and the support of the local community, so my family and I are keen to experience everything the area has to offer.”
Mark Chappell will now take up a position at the Defence College in Shrivenham.