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622 Squadron wave goodbye to long serving C-130 instructors

In August, Squadron Leader Derek Oldham and Flight Lieutenant Mark Raymond waved goodbye to life in the Royal Air Force.

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Flight Lieutenant Raymond served for a total of 44 years in the RAF, with 40 years in the Regulars and more recently serving on 622 Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadron as a reservist. As an Air Mobility pilot, Mark flew on 8 different aircraft types finishing his flying career on the C-130 Hercules. He operated the C-130 in nearly every role possible, on all operations the aircraft was involved in. He amassed a total of 11400 flying hours, which is even more amazing considering that towards the end of his career he was one of the most respected flying instructors on the Force, and spent much of his time in the simulators.

Photo - Wing Commander Dorian James, Officer Commanding 622 Squadron, shakes the hand of Flight Lieutenant Mark Raymond

Squadron Leader Derek Oldham joined the RAF in 1966 aged 18. Nearly 57 years later, Derek leaves the Air Force as the longest ever serving Officer and a staple of the Air Mobility Force, having started his Varsity Operational Training Conversion in May 1970. Derek is retiring gracefully, soon after the RAF C-130, the aircraft which he spent much of his career flying and instructing on.

Squadron Leader Oldham said:

“I joined the RAF Reserves with 622 Squadron because I enjoyed the job I was doing. I always liked the one-to-one teaching inside the simulator, and it was ideal for me to be able to keep teaching a few times a week and pass on my experience while easing into retirement. My final flight in a C-130 was over London for the King’s Birthday Flypast, as a passenger onboard the Hercules with the tail art denoting the aircrafts 56 years of service from 1966 to 2023. This was particularly special because that’s exactly how long I’ve been in the Air Force, so it was a nice end for me to be able to do that.”

Squadron Leader Oldham
622 Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadron

Photo - Air Commodore Dan James, Air Mobility Force Commander, shakes the hand of Squadron Leader Derek Oldham

Derek joined the Hercules fleet in 1980, flying in several roles throughout his time on many squadrons including XXIV, 30 and 47 Squadron. At 55, after a long career as a Regular, Derek chose to continue his service and join the reserves to continue his work as a C-130 instructor, finishing his career as a member of 622 Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadron.

Wing Commander Dorian James, Officer Commanding 622 Squadron said:

“Throughout his long and prestigious career, Derek has amassed 16,424 flying hours on 20 different aircraft types. Derek Oldham is a proven, enthusiastic, highly capable, and decorated pilot who served in the Falklands War, both Gulf Wars and the Balkans conflict, and has operated in many humanitarian missions notably the 1973 UNHCR mission, following the dismemberment of Pakistan where he repatriated refugees between Pakistan and Bangladesh and the 1984 Famine Relief in Ethiopia delivering vital aid packages.  He is held in the highest esteem by both peers and superiors alike.”

Wing Commander Dorian James
Officer Commanding 622 Squadron

Derek played a central role to the successful introduction of the C-130J in the 1990s through developing simulator and instructional packages.  It was in this role that he has continued, both updating the C-130J training syllabus and providing an unenviable amount of experience to C-130 aircrew.

Group Captain Gareth Burdett, Commander Air Wing said:

“On a personal level, both of these exceptional pilots feature in my logbook throughout my paltry 23 years on the Hercules. I am massively grateful for their mentoring and for their friendship. They epitomise the professionalism of the Air Mobility Force and literally thousands of aircrew, veterans and serving, will be raising a glass to their service and good company through the decades.”

Group Captain Gareth Burdett
Commander Air Wing


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