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Flying instructor retires from RAF Wittering after 35 years of service




A flying instructor has retired from regular duties at RAF Wittering after 35 years of service.

Sqn Ldr Andy Tagg began his career in 1986 when he joined up as non-commissioned aircrew, but the RAF was in his DNA long before he chose to apply.

His dad had joined as a national serviceman in 1954 and chose to remain until 1966, working first as an air traffic controller and then as a photographer.

Flt Lt Andy Tagg at the controls of a Harrier GR7 in 1994 (supplied image)
Flt Lt Andy Tagg at the controls of a Harrier GR7 in 1994 (supplied image)

Sqn Ldr Tagg's ambition was to become a pilot and in 1990 he began initial officer training at RAF College Cranwell. At the time, he did not consider the Harrier as a possibility, but it was the aircraft he was destined for.

Sqn Ldr Tagg said: “I was just coming to the end of my weapons training at RAF Chivenor and had put down the Jaguar as my choice on the wish-list.

"One of the staff came to me and said I should consider the Harrier, so that’s what I put down and that’s what I ended up flying.”

Squadron Leader Rich Kellet (left) takes over 115 Squadron from Squadron Leader Andy Tagg (right). Photo: SAC Jack Welson
Squadron Leader Rich Kellet (left) takes over 115 Squadron from Squadron Leader Andy Tagg (right). Photo: SAC Jack Welson

He went on to pilot the Harrier in northern-Iraq on Operation Northern Watch enforcing the no-fly zones after Gulf War I, and in the Balkans, flying from Gioia del Colle in southern Italy. It is also one of the four aircraft he became a Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI) for.

Although Andy retires from RAF Wittering, his association with the station predates his joining the service having first arrived as an air cadet in 1982 for the summer camps.

He returned as a Harrier pilot and then came back again in 2017 to command No 115 Squadron, which teaches already qualified pilots to become instructors on the Grob Tutor aircraft.

Retirement from regular service, however, does not mean the end of Sqn Ldr Tagg’s flying career.

A newly graduated Andy Tagg at RAF College Cranwell in 1990 (supplied image)
A newly graduated Andy Tagg at RAF College Cranwell in 1990 (supplied image)

After a short break, he will return to No 115 Squadron as a full-time reservist in the rank of flight lieutenant and continue as a qualified flying instructor.

He said: “As a squadron leader you’re not only instructing, you have an entire squadron to manage and everything that goes with it.

"It’s a great job, but as a flight lieutenant I’ll be able just to concentrate on the instructing, which I’m really looking forward to.”

Flt Lt Tagg at the Freedom of Peterborough Parade in 1995 (supplied image)
Flt Lt Tagg at the Freedom of Peterborough Parade in 1995 (supplied image)

Gp Capt Jo Lincoln thanked Sqn Ldr Tagg for "his enormous contribution to defence over the years. "

She said: "There are hundreds of pilots who owe their flying careers to Andy’s skilled tuition.

"Here at Wittering he has taken the reins in our Heritage Centre and worked very hard to continue the excellent work of preserving our aviation history, and we wish him every success in his new role at 115 Squadron.”



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