Harrier pilot who served in Iraq and the Balkans and became an outstanding leader in the RAF
Moran: he had 'a silkiness and charm that inspired all those around him'
AIR CHIEF MARSHAL SIR CHRISTOPHER MORAN, who died on Wednesday aged 54, was one of the outstanding
leaders in today's RAF, and was widely recognised as a future Chief of the Air Staff; at the time of
his sudden death he was 14 months into his appointment as Commander-in-Chief Air Command, the second
most senior post in the Service.
From his earliest years in the RAF, it was evident that Moran would go a very long way: he was blessed
with natural talent not only as a pilot, but also as a leader. He had, according to one who knew him in
those days,"a silkiness and charm that inspired all those around him".
Christopher Hugh Moran was born on April 28 1956 and educated at Ullathorne School in Coventry.
He joined the RAF as a university cadet in September 1974 when he was embarking on a Mechanical Engineering
degree at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST).
It was always Moran's ambition to fly the Harrier, and during university vacations he would visit RAF
Wittering to watch the aircraft which he found so compelling.
Following pilot training at RAF College Cranwell in 1977/78, Moran was posted to Harriers and served
on No IV (AC) Squadron. He was based at Gütersloh in West Germany from 1980 to 1985, a period of the Cold
War when Harriers operated both from Germany and from remote sites on NATO's flanks, although his operations
were confined to the Alliance's Central Region.
Moran quickly showed himself an exceptional young fighter pilot (though he once slewed off the runway
into a bog while landing, leading to the nickname "Boggy" Moran), and was appointed a weapons instructor
on Harriers. He served on detachments to Belize and the Falkland Islands, and was embarked for exercises
in the carrier Illustrious.
Though he did not fly during the conflict in the Falklands, he was posted there in July 1982, weeks
after the end of hostilities, as part of the initial reinforcements for the islands' defence.
In 1985 he was posted on exchange duties with the United States Marine Corps at Cherry Point, North Carolina,
then returned to RAF Wittering as a flight commander on the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit.
Following Advanced Staff College he completed a short tour of duty at the MoD before serving as an
equerry to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1992-93, after which he was appointed MVO. A spell in royal service
is not always indicative of a stellar career, but in 1994 Moran was given command of No IV (AC) Squadron;
he flew during Operation Warden (Northern Watch), which from September 1991 established a no- fly zone
over northern Iraq in support of Security Council Resolution 688 calling on Saddam Hussein to end the
repression of his civilian population.
The next year Moran led the squadron during Operation Deliberate Force, in which NATO carried out
airstrikes against Bosnian Serb military targets in response to a mortar attack on civilians in Sarajevo.
Moran was promoted group captain in 1996 and served as a staff officer at Headquarters No 1 Group
before taking command of RAF Wittering in the following year. In 1998 Wittering-based aircraft flew from
Invincible as part of Operation Bolton (Southern Watch), in which the Joint Task Force Southwest Asia
enforced the no-fly zone south of the 32nd Parallel in Iraq.
As station commander at Wittering, Moran had to react to the news of the sudden death of Diana,
Princess of Wales, who had been its honorary air commodore for 10 years: "She brought great happiness,"
he told the press. "There are a large number of photos of her, and of the young Princes, around the
station and in squadron diaries."
In 1999, after attending the Higher Command and Staff Course, Moran served as a divisional director
at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, completing an MA in Defence Studies at King's College,
At the turn of the Millennium he was promoted air commodore and went to the MoD as Director of the
Air Staff. In 2002 he was appointed Chief of the Defence Staff's liaison officer to the Joint Staff
in the Pentagon, and was involved in the planning and execution of Operation Telic, the invasion of Iraq.
After the invasion Moran was promoted air vice-marshal and Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group, where
he had responsibility for the RAF and Royal Navy fast jet forces in operations over Iraq and Afghanistan.
His next role was as Assistant Chief of the Air Staff at the MoD, responsible for all RAF strategy and
In 2007 he was appointed air marshal and Deputy Commander of Allied Joint Force Command at Brunssum,
NATO's operational headquarters for the international mission in Afghanistan. He was promoted air chief
marshal and appointed Commander-in-Chief Air Command in April 2009.
The twin objects of Moran's devotion were the RAF and his family. Known for his integrity and
thoughtfulness, he never leapt to conclusions; rather he kept his counsel and arrived at judgments
which stood the test of time.
Moran was appointed OBE in 1997 and KCB in 2009. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical
Society. Last year he was made Air Aide-de-Camp to the Queen.
In his spare time he enjoyed water-skiing, skiing and sailing - he was Admiral of the RAF Sailing
Association. His ambition was always to drive a Porsche, but he bowed to his wife's view that a family
car was the sensible option.
Sir Christopher Moran died after collapsing while taking part in a triathlon at RAF Brize Norton
in Oxford shire.
He married, in 1980, Lizzie Goodwin, who survives him with their son and two daughters.