Name: Air Cdre R D ‘Chris’ Stone, AFC RAF (Retd)
Joined 92: December 1952
Age: 19 years
Left 92: July 1955
Chris was born and raised in East Anglia in the 1930s. World War 2 came when Chris was a young schoolboy which for him, and his friends in their formative years, was a fascinating time as they witnessed the massive buildup of airfields around their homes. Chris clearly recalls events at a nearby USAAF base when, at the impressionable age of 11 years, he watched as B-26 Marauders of the 9th Air Force were prepared for their daily bombing missions; but not knowing at the time that this was a final phase of the Allied softening up of enemy defences in preparation for D-Day. Later in life as an artist, Chris transformed these boyhood memories of 1944 into a painting that he entitled “When I Grow Up”. For sure, this was the inspiration for him joining the Royal Air Force as soon as he could after leaving school.
Chris received his flying training at Cottesmore, and gained his ‘wings’ on Harvards in the Summer of 1952. Again, Chris has recalled that long ago personal thrill of “Going Solo” for the first time, in a painting entitled just that. The happy event took place at Woolfox Lodge, a disused WWII airfield used by Cottesmore as a satellite landing ground. After a couple of circuits there one cold January morning, the instructor said make a ‘full stop’ and taxy around to the threshold. Whereupon he dismounted, shouting before dropping off the wing, “bring the b****y thing back in one piece”. This no doubt resonates with many.
By the end of that year, following advanced and operational training on Meteors at RAF Full Sutton and Stradishall, he was posted to 92 Squadron at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in Yorkshire. There he flew Meteor 8s until the Squadron converted to the F-86E Sabre starting in February 1954. During this first tour Chris attended the PAI Course at Leconfield, and became the Gunnery Instructor on 92 Squadron until tourex in July 1955. Chris recalls some of the hard Yorkshire winters at Linton, and the primitive snow clearance plan, during this time. This basically comprised issuing gardening spades to all junior pilots to chip away ice on the ASPs and runway threshold! Once more, he has captured the memory of these times as a pair of 92 Squadron Meteors line up on an early morning icy runway.
Chris’s RAF career after 92 Squadron included flying tours as an instructor at both the Fighter Weapons, and Day Fighter Leaders School, and as a Flight Commander on Hunters in Germany. Then there were tours as a Flight Commander on Lightning Mk3s, followed by command of a Mk 6 Lightning squadron at RAF Leuchars. He considers his final ‘enjoyable’ time in the RAF being station commander at Wattisham flying F-4 Phantoms. Chris took early leave from the RAF in 1983 to join Hughes Aircraft Company directing their new business opportunities in South East Asia until 1995 when he finally retired to Virginia in the United States.