Keeping it in the family

Rod Dean. Pilot, parent, passenger. AFM witnessed a historic event of 50 years of flying.

ON MARCH 19, 1963, an 18 year old Rod Dean took to the sky for the first time in a Jet Provost. Fifty years later to the day, and at the same base, RAF Leeming, Rod was taken up by his son Flight Lieutenant Duncan Dean in a Hawk T.1.

The route took them low level above Wensleydale, a training sortie for new pilots to the squadron, then over to the Lake District and back to the Leeming overhead for general handling. Flt Lt Dean said he had been given permission to let his father take over for a short while. “The beauty of the hawk is that it’s designed as a training aircraft. They have dual controls, so Dad can fly the aircraft and I can take back the controls at any time.”

Rod, now 68, joined the RAF in 1962 as an 18 year old. The following year, he flew his first jet flight in a Jet Provost from RAF Leeming. “When I first started here, the pan was full of Jet Provosts and the place was humming. I did one trip in the morning with my instructor, to make sure I was safe to go off on my own, and then I went up and did fifteen minutes in the circuit. Great fun.”

[img src=5259 align=left]Throughout his flying career, Rod was a weapons and flying instructor on Hunters, Hawks and Jaguars. “My favourite jet to fly was definitely the Hunter. Such a beautiful aircraft to fly and to look at.” He served in Aden, Bahrain, Germany and Oman. He is now the Flying Display Director at the Shoreham Airshow and regularly flies light aircraft.

Duncan has recently completed a three year tour with the Royal Danish Air Force. Whilst on the tour he flew the F-16, which coincidentally is Rod’s dream jet to fly. Duncan said: “The F-16 is not as capable as typhoon, but it sure is a good looking jet.” Flt Lt Dean has also flown the Tornado F.3 and completed tours of the Falklands and Libya. His dream aircraft to fly would be the aircraft his Dad has spent a lot of his post RAF time flying, a Spitfire.

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Rod took Duncan for his first flight in a Cessna when he was just six years old. “When I was ten, Dad and I took a Messerschmitt bf 108 to Sweden for a week. I was basically the baggage handler, washed the plane and cranked the wheels up and down. It was great fun.” Flt Lt Dean, 37, explained that flying was the only career for him. “There was no other job I wanted to do. If I didn’t get into the RAF, then I had no idea what to do. I grew up around aviation and knew that’s what I had to do.”

The RAF and station commander at RAF Leeming realised the historical importance of the day and agreed to allow Rod to fly with his son to celebrate the event. Duncan said: “I’m very proud and it’s an excellent way for me to pay him back for all of the flying he’s given me over the years.” It was the first time Duncan had flown his Dad in a jet as he was usually the passenger. “Flying with my son today is one of the highlights of my flying career.” Rod said proudly.

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