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RAF Marham navigator first in history to breach 6,000 hour mark in Tornado fighter jet

PUBLISHED: 11:41 26 February 2019

Flt Lt Stradling is greeted by the Station Commander of RAF Marham, Group Captain Ian Townsend, following the return of Tornados to RAF Marham after operations against Daesh. Picture: Cpl Steve Buckley

Flt Lt Stradling is greeted by the Station Commander of RAF Marham, Group Captain Ian Townsend, following the return of Tornados to RAF Marham after operations against Daesh. Picture: Cpl Steve Buckley

© Crown Copyright 2019: This image may not be used, reproduced or transmitted for any non MoD purpose without first obtaining a copyright license available from the MoD, Crown Copyright Unit. Ipr- cc@dpa.mod.uk This image may be used for current news pur

A RAF navigator has become the first man to fly more than 6,000 hours in the soon-to-be-retired Tornado fighter jet.

Flt Lt Stradling was presented with his 6000 hrs badge by the Station Commander RAF Marham Group Captain Ian Townsend. Picture: SAC Josh DinesFlt Lt Stradling was presented with his 6000 hrs badge by the Station Commander RAF Marham Group Captain Ian Townsend. Picture: SAC Josh Dines

Flight Lieutenant Chris Stradling, known as Stradders, became the first person in history to break the 6,000 mark during a flight between RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus and RAF Marham.

The milestone means Flt Lt Stradling has spent the equivelant of more than 250 days in the air with the Tornado over his 35 year career.

The feat was achieved while flying over southern France as the Tornados returned from Cyprus following their deployment fighting ISIS in the middle east.

“It is quite humbling really,” said Flt Lt Stradling. “It has been a lot of hard work and time away from home, but I have also been extremely lucky and had an awful lot of help from a lot of people over the years to enable me to get there.

A Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 arrives back in the UK at RAF Marham having flown from RAF Akrotiri following the completion of Tornado operations again Daesh. Picture: Sgt Jimmy WiseA Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 arrives back in the UK at RAF Marham having flown from RAF Akrotiri following the completion of Tornado operations again Daesh. Picture: Sgt Jimmy Wise

“My current boss has been brilliant and has certainly helped me to put a large dent in the hours.

“If it wasn’t for him and several other members of the Tornado Force at RAF Marham I probably would not have got close.”

Following 31 years flying the aircraft, Flt Lt Stradling is the only person from the nations who fly the Tornado - the UK, Italy, Germany and Saudi Arabia, to break the 6,000 mark, an achievement which he said gave him “pride”.

He added: “6000 hours on any fast jet is not common and to be the first person to do so on Tornado is a real sense of pride.”

After joining the RAF in 1984, the navigator spent eight years in Germany before moving to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, spending 21 years as an instructor and flying with the famous 617 Squadron, ‘The Dambusters’.

Throughout his career Flt Lt Stradling has taken part in operations in the first Gulf War, as well as more recent operations as part of the coalition’s efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and most recently Syria and Iraq in the fight against ISIS.

He was posted to RAF Marham in 2017, flying with 12 Squadron and 31 Squadron.

The record is unlikely to be broken by another British airman due to the retirement of the Tornado from RAF service in March.

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