In a brand new interview for Xtended, former Chief of the Air Staff Sir Richard Johns CBE joins us to give a real insight into flight operations, the strategic defence reductions and inter-service rivalry. This is a fascinating and frank interview.
Sir Richard was commissioned at the RAF College Cranwell in 1959 after completing flying training on Piston Provost and Meteor aircraft.
Sir Richard flying ‘his’ Hunter FGA Mk. 7 down the Wadi Bana (Copyright Frank Grimshaw)
Following nine years’ service as an operational fast-jet pilot, primarily on the Harrier, he commanded both a Harrier squadron and the Harrier Force in Germany, he then became a qualified flying instructor; during which time he taught HRH The Prince of Wales to wings standard.
HRH Prince of Wales leaving a Jet Provost Mk5 after a lesson with Sir Richard Johns CBE (Copyright Air Historical Branch)
A succession of national and NATO senior appointments followed, culminating in his promotion to Chief of the Air Staff and Air ADC to the Queen. On retirement in April 2000, he became Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle. A past chairman of the Board of Trustees of the RAF Museum, he is now president of the RAF Historical Society.
With Mrs Thatcher during her visit to the Harrier Force in Germany (Copyright Sir Richard Johns CBE)
His illustrious career gave him the privilege of a rare, if not singular, perspective of the RAF, their sister services and national defence matters, witnessing a steady decline in the combat power of the UK’s armed forces, as financial management took precedence over identifying strategic priorities and maintaining the vital skill-set of service personnel.
His views are forensic and forthright, balanced and thought-provoking.
His autobiography “Bolts from the Blue – From Cold War warrior to Chief of the Air Staff” is published by Grub Street Books and is available in the U.K., US and Canada from November 2018.
It is essential reading for anyone interested in the development of Allied air power over the last fifty years.
We are extremely grateful to Grub Street Books for their support in producing this episode.
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- Royal Aeronautical Society
- Global Aviation Resource
Returning to Gutersloh as Harrier Force commander. Group Captain Mike Stear handing over command (Copyright Air Historic Branch)
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