Biography

Squadron Leader Bruce McDonald

He joined the Royal Navy as a boy seaman in 1946 with an ambition to fly with the Fleet Air Arm. When this did not happen he transferred to the RAF in 1949 – trained at No 2 Flying Training School, South Cerney and then on Meteors at No 205 Advanced Flying School, Middleton St George in 1950.

His first operational tour as a sergeant pilot was flying the Meteor, Vampire and Sabre with 66 Squadron at Linton-on-Ouse. He flew the Harvard on 1340 (Special Duties) Flight at Eastleigh in Nairobi, Kenya, then started a long association with the Central Flying School (CFS) at Little Rissington. He was commissioned in 1959 from No 1 Officer Cadet Training Unit at RAF Jurby on the Isle of Man. Between his time as a CFS instructor and then a fast jet ‘trapper’ on CFS Examining Wing, he flew the Hunter in Germany with II (AC) Sqn at Gutersloh, the Lightning at Wattisham, was an instructor on No 226 Operational Conversion Unit flying the Lightning at Coltishall and later the Jaguar at Lossiemouth.

After further spells with CFS at Leeming and Scampton, he extended his service to run the Tornado F3 flight simulator at Leeming before he finally retired in 1990. During his career, he was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air (QCVSA), the Air Force Cross (AFC) and Bar. During his time with CFS, he was an aerobatic display pilot flying the Jet Provost with the Red Pelicans in the 1960s and, in 1972, he was instrumental in forming and leading the Meteor and Vampire display team - the Vintage Pair. Bruce flew many aircraft in over 40 years with the RAF, from the Tiger Moth to the Tornado F3, and with foreign air forces – including the Mirage, Skyhawk, Alpha Jet and 3 types of MIG. He flew over 9,000 hours on 12 different types of piston aircraft and 24 types of jet aircraft.