Rob

Deputy Chief Air Engineer

"There aren’t many work organisations out there which look after its people and creates such an ethos of strength and commitment amongst them."

What does your job involve?

I’m a senior engineering officer in the Royal Air Force, currently holding the commissioned rank of Wing Commander. My role is the Deputy Chief Air Engineer supporting the Air Officer Commanding Number 1 Group. The Royal Air Force is split into a number of Groups, which together make up our organisation. Number 1 Group operate all of our Combat Air and Intelligence collection aircraft, which means the fighter and bomber planes in addition to the aircraft which gather information about what our enemies are doing.

How long have you served in the Armed Forces? 

I’ve been in the Royal Air Force for 18 years. I was initially sponsored at school, which meant a little extra money for my parents to spend on my education and school trips. In addition, the Royal Air Force organised for me to go on an outward bound course in Scotland where I made lots of friends, many of whom are colleagues of mine still today. The Royal Air Force then sponsored me to go to Southampton University to study Aeronautical Engineering, which again helped me financially to pay for my studies and living costs.

Why did you join the Armed Forces?

I joined the Armed forces for adventure, travel, excitement and interest. I chose the Royal Air Force because I love aircraft - there is something magical about a machine that weighs many tons and yet is able to fly. I am also a natural engineer, I love trying to solve problems, and I enjoy working with people and leading teams, which fits well with being a commissioned officer.

At what age did you join?

I was 21 years old when I joined the Royal Air Force, which was immediately after I left university. At that point, as a graduate, I started my Initial Officer Training, which lasted about 6 months, and then led to Engineer Specialist Training, which lasted about another 6 months. 

Was this the job you wanted to do as a child?

Yes. I was born in Yorkshire and I remember writing to my local careers information office when I was about 8 or 9 asking them to help me identify all the aircraft flying near our house. They wrote back and also told me how, when I was older I could join, which inspired me.

What’s the best part of being in the Armed Forces?

It would be easy to say the equipment. There is a small part of every member of the Royal Air Force which loves the complex, cutting edge technology that we work with, and the constant fast-changing demand on it to deliver on operations to defend our country and interests. However, really, it’s the people and the feeling of being part of a very strong and close-knit team. There aren’t many work organisations out there which look after its people and creates such an ethos of strength and commitment amongst them. 

What advice would you give to any of our readers looking to join the Armed Forces in the future?

Think about it carefully, it’s challenging and demanding and may see you travelling to distant corners of the world at short notice... THEN DO IT! You won’t regret it!