Geoff in his Harrier cockpit. Timms: "It suited me
to be flying"
By A STAFF REPORTER
THE RAF's oldest jet pilot bowed out of the service yesterday with a 500mph low-level flight in a Harrier jump jet. Before landing, he bowed the nose in salute.
Squadron Leader Geoff Timms, 62, joined the RAF in 1948 as a 16-year-old apprentice, earning his wings after being selected for a commission at the age of 20. Since then he has logged more than 7,000 flying hours.
"I've been hiding, so they haven't been able to catch me and tie me to a desk," Sqn Ldr Timms said. "I think I've lasted so long because I've been involved in the training programme for such a long time. It suited me to be flying.
"I've been expecting my retirement for some time, but it seems strange now to be standing on the ground and that's the end for me."
Sqn Ldr Timms, who was awarded the OBE earlier this year for his service to the RAF, flew the Hunter as a display pilot and qualified as a flying instructor in 1965. He has devoted most of his flying time to training Harrier pilots, including many who excelled in the Falklands campaign.
His commanding officer at RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire, Wing Commander Tony Harper, said: "Geoff has more than 40 years' experience, which has certainly been a huge bonus to me and a whole generation of Harrier pilots since the aircraft's inception. It's a great leveller to work with men like him."
Sqn Ldr Timms touched down to a large reception of engineers - and station colleagues, including his wife Jill and daughter Jacqueline.
Although leaving the RAF, he will teach in the simulator as a civilian. Group Captain Pete Day, who joined Sqn Ldr Timms on his last sortie, said: "I've known Geoff as a student under him and as a colleague alongside him. He is the most sympathetic instructor any pilot could wish for."