Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 7°C

min temp: 7°C

Search

Apache helicopter pilot at Wattisham clocks up more than 7,000 hours in the cockpit

PUBLISHED: 19:00 18 January 2016 | UPDATED: 13:22 19 January 2016

Major Chris Hearn MBE (centre) with colleagues from the Attack Helicopter (AH) Force

Major Chris Hearn MBE (centre) with colleagues from the Attack Helicopter (AH) Force

Archant

A Suffolk-based Army Air Corps Apache pilot has clocked up more than 7,000 hours in the air after almost 30 years of military flying.

Major Chris Hearn MBEMajor Chris Hearn MBE

Major Chris Hearn MBE was given a rousing reception by colleagues from the Attack Helicopter (AH) Force when he touched down at Wattisham Flying Station on Wednesday.

The 54-year-old’s current role is as the AH Force’s Senior Flying Instructor, responsible for maintaining the flying standards for operational Apache crews.

He said: “I was out for a refresher flight with another pilot, it was a beautiful day and I was concentrating on my flying when he suddenly said congratulations on your 7,000 hours. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my flying career and it was great to have so many colleagues turn out to mark the occasion.”

Maj Hearn grew up in Exeter and joined the Army in 1979, having left Heles School (now St Peter’s Church of England Aided School) with few qualifications. He initially served as a gunner in the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment before applying for pilot training in 1987 as a lance corporal.

Lieutenant Colonel Justin Stein, AH Force Chief of Staff, (left) and Major Chris Hearn MBELieutenant Colonel Justin Stein, AH Force Chief of Staff, (left) and Major Chris Hearn MBE

Maj Hearn trained as a Qualified Helicopter Instructor in 1990 and is now one of only two pilots to hold the A1 category, the highest instructional qualification in the AAC. He was commissioned as an officer in 2000 and awarded an MBE in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to Army aviation.

Over the years he has flown 2,500 hours in Gazelle, 1,000 hours in Lynx, 1,000 hours in Squirrel and 2,500 hours in Apache and served on operations in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Libya.

“I loved the Gazelle because it’s so agile, fun to fly and my first helicopter, but the Apache is the best aircraft,” he said. “It’s not pretty, but it’s designed to be a fighting platform and there’s nothing better in its role.

“The aircraft’s played a big part in my life, as I was part of the team that went over to the USA to start the process of bringing it into service in 1999, I helped write the manual and have flown it on four operational tours.”

The father of four admits to “pinching myself every now and again” about the career he has had. “I’ve had such an interesting time in the Army after starting out with no real qualifications to speak of,” he said.

“I’m humbled by the opportunities that have been given to me, but I’ve had to work hard to make the most of them.”

Lieutenant Colonel Justin Stein, AH Force Chief of Staff, said: “On behalf of the AH Force I would like to congratulate Major Hearn on reaching the significant milestone of 7,000 flying hours, making him one of our most experienced pilots.

“He has instructed every single Apache pilot and his skills, knowledge and example continue to bring on the next generation of pilots and instructors.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Ipswich Star visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Ipswich Star staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Ipswich Star account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Five people have died after a knifeman brought terror to the heart of Westminster, mowing down pedestrians then stabbing an unarmed policeman before being shot by armed officers.

A daredevil four-year-old boy from Kesgrave is causing a stir on social media with his incredible scooter skills.

The London Liverpool Street services in both directions are being affected by overhead line failures in Romford.

Staff at a popular roadside café received an Eat Out, Eat Well award for their healthy food and local produce.

An alleged child sex offence is recorded by police almost every four hours in Suffolk and Essex in total, an investigation has revealed.

Are you stuck for what to do to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend?

A burglar who was part of a gang that vandalised an Ipswich town centre cafe has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Like the famous green benches of the House of Commons, the police are part of the fabric of Westminster.

Upper Brook Street is one of the oldest streets in Ipswich and over the centuries it has been home to several public houses and inns, writes David Kindred.

This Sunday sees the start of the 101st year of British Summer Time (BST) as we put the clocks forward one hour at 1am – losing 60 minutes in bed but gaining lighter evenings to enjoy in spring and summer.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24