RAF Sport Aircraft

Gary Coleman
At an early age Gary was interested in aviation; even before he was born his father had built him an Airfix model of an English Electric Lightning. At the age of 9 he showed an interest in aviation safety when he insisted getting out of a Cessna 172 at Denham Airfield as there were no parachutes fitted! 

He joined the Royal Air Force in 1989 and was posted to the Tornado F3 as a Navigator in 1992. During his time on the Tornado he became an Air Combat Instructor, Qualified Tactics Instructor, Electronic Warfare Instructor, 4-ship lead and flight authoriser. He also flew the Battle of Britain Memorial Lancaster, Dakota and Chipmunk aircraft from 2000-2003. In 2003 he was posted to RAF Strike Command Flight Safety where he staffed several aircraft accident inquiries, sat on the UK Airprox Board and attended the UK Flight Safety Committee. He returned to flying as Flight Commander Operations on a UK AWACS Squadron, overseeing 6 flight deck crews. He was the capability manager in HQ 2Gp for ISTAR reconnaissance assets. He has flown on operations over Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan and on peacetime air-policing duties in the UK and Falkland Islands during his 27 years in the RAF. In 2011 at the rank of Wing Commander he left the RAF for a very short period only to rejoin as a Squadron Leader so that he could be the full-time Officer Commanding of RAF Halton Airfield (EGWN) - an airfield that sees ~15,000 per annum flights from military helicopters, Air Cadet gliders, RAF-sponsored gliding (including Battleback rehabilitation activities), RAF Flying Clubs' Assoc, RAF Gliding and Soaring Assoc and RAF Microlight Assoc and the very occasional flight of the RAF balloon. RAF Halton is Home for Sport for RAF gliding and microlighting, along with many other non-air sports. In 2017 he was re-promoted to Wing Commander to become the Flying Branch and Non-Commissioned Aircrew Trade Advisor – providing subject matter advice on RAF aircrew requirements, selection, recruitment, training, remuneration, retention, terms & conditions, policy and career management.

His wife, a PPL holder, introduced him to private flying in 1999. He went on to gain his PPL in 2000 at the RAF Brize Norton Flying Club. He has owned a Kitfox Mk3, a Cherokee 140 and now owns a share in a Rollason Condor and a DHC-1 'Supermunk'. He is the Aviation Safety Member of the RAF Flying Clubs’ Assoc. He was appointed a Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 2004 and has been a member of the Light Aircraft Association since 2002.  In 2015 he was awarded the Honourable Company of Air Pilots' Myles Bickerton Trophy by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, for his services to General Aviation. In 2017 he won the Royal Institute of Navigation’s Top Nav competition in his Rollason Condor.  He has been a GASCo Council Member since 2004 and on the Board as a Director since 2007.