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From the same University Air Squadron, to circumnavigating the globe – two pilots' incredible journey

When Alex and Steph first met as students at their local University Air Squadron in 2011, it would have been hard to believe that one day they would circumnavigate the globe together as crew of a C17 Globemaster.

Flt Lt Bowyer and Flt Lt Searle sit in the cockpit of an aircraft

Flight Lieutenant Alex Bowyer & Flight Lieutenant Steph Searle met in 2011 at the University of London Air Squadron. Upon graduation they each went their separate ways - Alex onto a master’s degree and Steph into civilian employment. Yet a few years later through social media, they realised they had both applied to be pilots in the RAF and immediately reconnected to help each other through the selection process. They soon found themselves on the same Initial Officer Training, graduating together in May 17 and embarking on their journey to become pilots. They were both at RAF College Cranwell for Elementary Flying Training and even on the same course during Multi Engine Flying Training, flying the Phenom T1.

Now they are part of the same C17 crew with 99 Squadron, and on 27 November departed westwards to Calgary, then to Hawaii, and finally to Australia to participate in Exercise Global Dexterity. There they flew alongside Australian & American pilots, loadmasters, and engineers, practicing inter-operability by seamlessly jumping onto each other's aircraft and flying with crews made up of all three nations.

Yet the end of the exercise did not mean the end of their mission. Alex and Steph then flew to Japan where freight was picked up from Exercise Mobility Guardian. The C17 Globemaster then flew to Brunei to pick up even more freight from Exercise Bersama Lima, before finally setting off home to complete their 28,300 mile circumnavigation of the world in time for Christmas.