AN AIRMAN who played a key role in modernising RAF Brize Norton’s air capabilities has died aged 54.

Flight Lieutenant Ken McCredie, most recently of 99 Squadron, racked up 11,000 flying hours, piloted nine types of aircraft and served at 14 Royal Air Force (RAF) bases.

His 35-year career culminated in helping to introduce the Boeing C-17 Globemaster into service in the RAF as a flying instructor, after being among the first pilots to train on it with the US Air Force.

Upon his death, a statement from RAF Brize Norton described his service as outstanding.

It said: “Ken has become a legend within the C-17 Force and he will be sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure to serve with him at home and abroad.”

Kenneth McCredie was born on March 15, 1960, to parents Norman and Bridget.

The eldest of five siblings, he grew up in Gravesend, Kent, and Clydebank, Scotland. He was a pupil at Perth High School.

Flt Lt McCredie began his life as a pilot on October 11, 1978, as an officer with the East Lowlands University Air Squadron.

He completed his elementary flying training and initial officer training and went to enter basic flying training an RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire.

In 1983 he commenced advanced training at RAF Valley, in Anglesey, Wales, afterwards joining 63 Squadron Tactical Weapons Unit at RAF Chivenor, Devon.

He spent the next year flying Chipmunk and Jetstream aircraft, until 1985 when his frontline career began on the Lockheed C-130 Hercules – known as “the workhorse of the RAF’s air transport fleet”. Flt Lt McCredie was first with 242 Operational Conversion Unit, then with 30 Squadron at RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire.

During that time he undertook a co-pilot tour which saw him dispatched to RAF Mount Pleasant, on the Falkland Islands, and took part in transport and tactical operations worldwide. He was made a captain in 1989 and posted to 70 Squadron (known as LXX Sqn).

Flt Lt McCredie was at RAF Lyneham when he met his future wife, Rita. They married on October 5, 1989 in Perthshire and then moved to North Wiltshire.

In 1993 he joining 216 Squadron (now disbanded) at Brize Norton, working on the Lockheed Tristars – used commonly for long-range air transport and air-to-air refuelling.

Seven years later, he was hand-picked to go to America and train with the US Air Force in C-17 Globemasters. During that time he and the other pilots bore question marks on their uniforms in place of a squadron number – signifying that it had not yet been decided which discontinued unit would be revived for the new aircraft at home.

In 2001 he returned to the UK as part of 99 Squadron, which had been disbanded since 1974, continuing as an instructor. According to the RAF, he played “a central role” in putting together the new procedures that had to be implented as the C-17s were introduced into service.

Flt Lt McCredie was again chosen to represent the air force in America in 2004, this time on an exchange programme with the US Air Force, in Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina.

When he came back in 2009 to 99 Sqn, the C-17 fleet had doubled in size. Accordingly, Flt Lt McCredie was installed as part of a Training Review Team, which formed the blueprint for the UK-based simulator training now under way at Farnborough, as well as making a great deal of headway into the formal Defence Accreditation of C-17 training. He was made part of Brize Norton’s training review team, which helped create simulator training for C-17s.

Flt Lt McCredie died on June 25 after a long period of illness. He is survived by his father Norman, wife Rita, sisters Anne and Jean, brothers Alan and Colin and children Julia and Andrew.

A funeral was held at Brinkworth Cemetery July 7.

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