Flying the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom was a young man’s dream but the path from “Civvy Street” to operational on a fighter squadron was long, arduous and beset with obstacles. To succeed meant the chance to fly one of the most iconic combat aircraft that ever took to the air but not every fledgling aviator who began the journey fulfilled their ambition to wear the coveted “Op. badge”. “Per Ardua–Training an RAF Phantom Crew” describes how Cold War aircrew assimilated the skills needed to fly and fight the complex fighter jet. It follows the progress through every stage and explains why it cost millions to train each pilot and navigator. Philip Keeble and David Gledhill, both former Phantom aircrew, recount the challenges and the emotions encountered during the rigorous training process in a frank yet light hearted way that will leave you wondering how anyone achieved the goal.
David Gledhill joined the Royal Air Force as a Navigator in 1973. After training, he flew the F4 Phantom on squadrons in the UK and West Germany. He was one of the first aircrew members to fly the F2 and F3 Air Defence Variant of the Tornado on its acceptance into service and served for many years as an instructor on the Operational Conversion Units of both the Phantom and the Tornado. He commanded the Tornado Fighter Flight in the Falkland Islands and has worked extensively with the Armed Forces of most NATO nations. He has published a number of factual books on aviation topics and novels in the Phantom Air Combat series set during the Cold War. Philip Keeble was born in 1947 in Beaconsfield, England. Educated first in Slough and later Fareham where he started work as an industrial chemist before leaving to joining the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary. In 1965 he was accepted for pilot training with the RAF and had a 28-year career in the service, flying mainly reconnaissance and fast combat aircraft in a wide range of overseas theatres. On leaving the forces he became a civilian military simulator instructor both in the UK and in Saudi Arabia. He was Ordained as a Deacon in the Church in Wales in 2013 (retired).