Gp Capt (Ret’d) BRIAN HOSKINS – President
Brian Hoskins joined the Royal Air Force in 1964. After pilot training he was posted 20 Squadron flying Hunters at RAF Tengah, Singapore. On his return from the Far East he qualified as a Flying Instructor and then completed a tour at the School of Refresher Flying at RAF Manby, flying the Jet Provost. During this time he was member of the Macaws Aerobatic Team for three seasons, two as Team Leader. In 1972, he returned to the Hunter on Nos 45 and 58 Squadrons at RAF Wittering and completed the Qualified Weapons Instructors Course.
In 1974, he was selected for The Red Arrows and, during a two year tour, he flew as No. 7 and No.6. In 1977, he became Flight Commander on 208 Squadron flying the Buccaneer in the overland role. He was short toured in 1978 to become Leader of the Red Arrows for their last year with the Gnat and first two years with the Hawk.
In 1982 was posted to No 1 Tactical Weapons Unit at RAF Brawdy as Officer Commanding Operations Wing and Chief Instructor, flying the Hunter, the Hawk and the Jet Provost. In 1985, the inevitable happened and he was, at last, tied to a desk: he attended the Joint Services Defence College at Greenwich, followed by a tour at the Ministry of Defence.
In 1988, he was posted to RAF Akrotiri as Station Commander. There he flew Hawk, Tornado F3, Phantom, Canberra and Shackleton aircraft on attachment to RAF Akrotiri, as well as the Wessex Mk 5 helicopters based there. His last tour was as Air Attaché in Chile.
He retired in 1994 and spent another four years in Chile before joining FRADU, flying the Hawk at Culdrose. He became Manager/Chief Pilot in February 2001. He has over 7000 flying hours including 750 in the Gnat and 2900 in the Hawk. He flew his last air display, with four Hawks, two weeks after his 60th birthday and hung-up his flying boots four months later. He stayed with Babcock, initially as Director of Flight Operations, and then as a Consultant, until 2010. He is now fully retired and still living in Cornwall where plays golf badly but enjoys being the Honorary Secretary at the local club. He, and his wife Lizzie, enjoy travelling, especially cruising, and visiting their three children and eight grandchildren.
Following sponsorship through Sixth Form and University studies, Mark Northover joined the RAF in 1987 and completed his first tour commanding an Aircraft Component Repair Flight at RAF St Athan. A posting to 3(F) Sqn as a Junior Engineering Officer followed in 1991, operating the Harrier GR5 and GR7 from RAF Gütersloh and Laarbruch.
His next posting was as Officer Commanding 1st Line Engineering Flight with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows. During this tour he deployed extensively to South Africa, the Far East and Australasia in support of UK export campaigns. He was awarded the MBE for his services to the Red Arrows in the QBHL 1997.
Mark then completed a short appointment as the Engineering Authority (EA) for Mechanical Systems in the Harrier Support Authority at RAF Wyton and, upon being selected for promotion to squadron leader in 1997, he took up post as the EA for RAF and Royal Navy Aircraft Assisted Escape Systems. Remaining at RAF Wyton, Mark was appointed to become the engineering specialist member of the VC10 Airworthiness Review Team in 1999, working for the Inspectorate of Flight Safety; this involved an independent review of the design, operation of and support to the ageing VC10 fleet.
In 2000, the Red Arrows again beckoned and Mark became the first squadron leader Senior Engineering Officer, holding QR640 responsibility for the Team. He was also the Project Officer for the Team’s relocation from RAF Cranwell to Scampton.
A change of pace came in 2002 when Mark deployed on Out of Area operations to Prince Sultan Air Base, KSA, as Officer Commanding Engineering Support Squadron during a period characterised by the build-up ahead of the second Gulf War. A return to RAF Wyton followed where, as the Harrier Fleet and Programmes Manager, he was responsible for the GR7A and GR9 upgrades.
Promotion to wing commander in 2004 saw Mark learning German ahead of Advanced Staff Training at the German Armed Forces Staff College in Hamburg. On completion of the course in 2007, he was posted to the Typhoon Project Team at DE&S Abbey Wood, responsible for developing the Typhoon Availability Service contract with BAES. His efforts were rewarded with his selection in late 2009 to command Engineering and Logistics Wing at RAF Leuchars during the drawdown of the Tornado F3 force and the station’s transition to a Typhoon Main Operating Base.
Mark then briefly served as a Cyber Policy Staff Officer in MoD before being selected for promotion to group captain in 2012 and posted to MoDSAP as Group Captain Salam, responsible for the UK MoD operations, engineering and logistics support to Typhoon aircraft sold to and being operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force under the Salam Govt-to-Govt contract. This was followed by a posting in April 2015 to become Group Captain Support and Chief Air Engineer in HQ 1 Group, where his responsibilities included platforms ranging from Lightning, Typhoon, Tornado, the ISTAR /UAV fleets and the vintage aircraft of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
He took up his current appointment as Chief of Staff, Typhoon Exports, in December 2016.
Mark is married to Kathleen and their family home is in Edinburgh. Outside of work, he enjoys most sports, but particularly golf and skiing.
Wg Cdr Andrew Keith – Chairman & OCRAFAT
Wing Commander ‘Boomer’ Keith was commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1994. Graduating as a Fast Jet (FJ) pilot he was posted to the fighter lead-in squadron and flew the Aermacchi MB339.
After successful completion of this training he was posted to the front line conversion unit based in Nowra, Australia to convert onto the A4K Skyhawk. After type conversion he remained in Australia for a further six months and participated in a bilateral training programme providing maritime strike assets for the Australian Navy. Keith then returned to the front line Skyhawk squadron based in NZ conducting annual exercises in South East Asia participating in bi-lateral training with Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
Following the demise of the RNZAF air combat force, Keith transferred to the Royal Air Force in December 2001.
He was posted to the Harrier OCU at RAF Wittering. Following conversion he completed a front line tour with IV(AC) Sqn at RAF Cottesmore. During this tour he was involved with a variety of UK, Europe and US based exercises.
He completed two embarked detachments aboard HMS Invincible. He has also completed three flying tours on Op HERRICK, Afghanistan.
In September 2006 Keith was selected to join the RAF Aerobatic Team and flew with the team for the 2007-2009 seasons. In his final year he also took up the position of Squadron Executive Officer.
Keith was promoted to Squadron Leader in December 2010 and was posted to the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning staff at Northwood HQ to take up the position of SO2 Fast Jet.
During this tour he was involved in coordination and execution of large joint multi-national tier 2+ exercises.
Keith was promoted to Wing Commander in 2016 and selected to attend Advanced Command and Staff College at the JSCSC Shrivenham in 2016.
He was posted in
September 2017 to his current position as the Officer Commanding of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – The Red Arrows.
Ian joined the RAF in 1979 as a Flight Line Mechanic (FLM). On completion of training, he was posted to RAF Valley in 1980. After his Fitters Course in 1984, Ian enjoyed tours at RAF Brize Norton, Benson, Coningsby, Bruggen (twice), Marham and Lossiemouth, before joining the Team in 2001. Selected for Deputy Circus Leader in 2005, Ian left the RAF at the end of that season.
Ian is married with two children and now four grand-children! He works for BAE Systems at RAF Valley where, as a Fleet Planner, he is responsible for planning the Hawk T Mk 2 maintenance cycle.
Craig joined the RAF in February 1976. He was part of the mighty Jaguar force, serving on 6, 14 and 54 Sqns. After a brief spell at Valley, Craig joined the Team in 1985 and became part of the Team’s inventory until he left in 1994. He was Circus Leader 1990.
Craig left the RAF in 2002 and now works for Aviva as an ITIL Service Design and Transition Managing Consultant.
Nikki Wright – Public Relations
Nikki is a Masters-educated, highly experienced and innovative PR and marketing communications professional with a successful career spanning nearly 20 years.
As former PR Manager of the Red Arrows she brings a wealth of relevant experience and insight to the Red Arrows Association committee. This includes the development and delivery of the first Red Arrows communications strategy specifically designed to form part of the overarching Royal Air Force Engagement Strategy.
Nikki’s wider experience has seen her hold senior PR positions with globally recognised iconic brands including Guide Dogs, Porsche Cars Great Britain and Saab Cars Great Britain. Nikki is currently Head of Communications for national charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Director of Amber PR, retained by the Aston Martin Owners Club and ground-breaking Mark Pollock Trust.
Her particular expertise within the charitable and not-for-profit sector brings notable success in the delivery of national and international PR strategy development and tactical campaign implementation generating millions in audience engagement, coverage and fundraising as well as influencing change at Government level.
Brand positioning and resilience, VIP and celebrity engagement and corporate sponsorship partnerships are other areas of Nikki’s wealth of experience.
Nikki lives in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, with her five-year old daughter and enjoys a variety of sports including rowing, tennis and running. She is also involved in motoring and motorsport writing for the the prestigious Aston Martin magazine Vantage, Aston Martin Quarterly, Aston Martin News, the Aston Martin Owners Club Racing Series and other titles have included Historic Motor Racing News.
Previous Committee Members