Squadron Leader Charlie Matthews of No 1 (Fighter) Squadron, based at RAF Leuchars in Fife, recently reached a significant milestone in his flying career becoming one of the few pilots in the world to complete one thousand hours operating the Typhoon, the RAF’s state-of-the-art, multi-role combat aircraft.
Sqn Ldr Matthews, who is the Executive Officer (XO) on 1(F) Sqn, originally hails from New Zealand and flew with the Royal New Zealand Air Force prior to the disbandment of their Air Combat Force. He has since forged an impressive career at the heart of the RAF’s air combat capability.
1(F) Sqn’s primary mission since it re-formed at RAF Leuchars last year has been maintaining Quick Reaction Alert with Typhoon aircraft at readiness, every minute of every day, to launch to investigate unidentified aircraft approaching UK airspace.
As part of this enduring mission, Sqn Ldr Matthews has ‘scrambled’ on five separate occasions assisting civilian aircraft in difficulty and shadowing Russian military aircraft on long range flights through international airspace within the UK Flight Information Region.
On his return to terra firma from the routine Quick Reaction Alert training mission that took him past 1,000 hours at the controls of the Typhoon, he found his family had joined RAF colleagues from across the Station to welcome him back and mark his achievement.
Sqn Ldr Matthews, who was the RAF’s Typhoon Display pilot in 2008, said:
“It was very humbling to have such a turnout to mark the occasion. There have been many fantastic experiences over the last 1000 hours but some particular highlights have been display flying in 2008, dropping two Paveway II weapons on Exercise in Oman, ‘dog-fighting’ the US Air Force’s F-22 Raptor on exercise in the UAE, flying to Malaysia for EX BERSAMA SHIELD and the five QRA scrambles over the last year at RAF Leuchars.
“The one thing that has been enduring over the last 7 years flying Typhoon is that it is very much a team effort. Without the support of family, fellow Squadron pilots and engineers, wider Station support elements and industry it just wouldn’t happen so I have to thank everyone who has helped put me in the air where I love to be. I feel very privileged to fly an aircraft that is already at the forefront of combat air capability but has the potential to deliver so much more. Hopefully I’ll fly a few more hours in her yet!
Wing Commander Mark Flewin, his commanding officer on 1(F) Sqn said:
“On behalf of the Squadron, I congratulate Charlie on reaching this milestone, which is a significant achievement in an aircraft which underpins the RAF’s broader combat air capabilities. It is evidence of the growing maturity of the Typhoon Force that we have pilots reaching 1,000 hours, and Charlie joins a small handful of operators who can wear the patch with pride. 1(F) Squadron, in tandem with our colleagues across the other RAF Typhoon units, are working incredibly hard to develop the multi-role capability of the aircraft. Indeed, it is clear that Typhoon will continue to be at the heart of the RAF’s ability to deliver air power at home and overseas, and we need experienced people within the Force to do that effectively.”
Date: Oct 10, 2013