Tony Criddle joined a British Navy Engineering school at fifteen and graduated six years later as an electrical aircraft engineer. His first operational job was two years spent repairing and maintaining a helo as part of a ship's flight. The job included flying duties, from which he got the ‘flying bug' and also included two combat tours in Borneo and Malaysia during confrontation, which was his introduction to operational flying.
On receiving a shore job after that, he passed a few more purely academic educational subjects, and also qualified further as an engineer, before applying to transfer to full-time flying. After a year at Dartmouth, and two further years in flying training, he qualified initially as a pilot, later a flying instructor, and later still as a Central Flying School (Airforce) ‘A' Category Instructor. Subsequent flying jobs included ‘the Cod War', ‘the Biara patrol', and a three-year exchange service to the Australian Fleet Air Arm, to which he later transferred. He flew mostly helicopters in an anti-submarine role, but also spent years teaching basic and operational flying, as well as conducting many search and rescues, medical evacuations, and casualty recoveries.
All told, Tony served for thirty-seven years in two navies, which also included two years with the ‘Sharks' Helo aerobatics team on the UK air-show circuit. Jobs in the RAN included being the air safety practitioner in naval safety, the CO of a Fleet Support Unit at Jervis Bay, and a project manager. He was seriously injured at the time of Desert Storm in mid-1991 and discharged in a wheelchair. He got semi-mobile again later, still paints and is now trying writing too.
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