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News > Alumni Interviews > How I started

How I started

How I started
13 Dec 2021
Written by Derek Sharp
Alumni Interviews
Derek Sharp
Derek Sharp

I have always had a burning passion for flying ever since, at the tender age of four, I looked up into a clear blue Suffolk sky and marvelled as Meteor jet fighters screamed across the airfield where I lived. Today, some 68 years later, that passion burns just as strongly.  I suppose I would like to be known as an ex fighter pilot. For sure, the first half of my extensive flying career was as an attack pilot. The very broad brush of being a fighter pilot encompasses a myriad of different tasks and roles. There is the interceptor pilot, known today as an 'air superiority pilot', the very stuff that Battle of Britain pilots were made of. We then have the attack pilots, aka the 'mud movers' who support the army on the battlefield. This is known as 'close air support'. They take out the tanks and other armoured vehicles and I was later to join a squadron whose emblem was indeed a can opener used to open tin cans! Then we have the vast range of bomber pilots who, though not true fighter pilots, do operate anything from large multi-crew aircraft to single seat low-level attack. Their targets are various, but can include railways, airfields and communications facilities.  I started as an attack pilot, but was also trained to shoot other aircraft down. Was I successful? 

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