Kevin Hamilton-Sturdy came from Northern Ireland and joined the Royal Air Force in 1977. He trained as an aircraft mechanic, was posted to the Visiting Aircraft Section at RAF Leuchars, and, whilst there, detached to the Master Diversion Airfield Team at HMS Gannet, Ayrshire..
In 1980, on posting to 431 Maintenance Unit at RAF Bruggen, he was employed in airframe structural repairs and aircraft salvage and transportation duties on the RAF Germany Phantom, Buccaneer, Jaguar, Pembroke, Wessex, Hunter and Harrier aircraft.
In 1981, after further trade training to Aircraft Technician (Airframe) he was promoted to Junior Technician, Kevin and posted to Rectification Flight at RAF Leeming, servicing Jet Provost, Bulldog and Chipmunk trainer aircraft. In 1983, he was posted to Harrier Servicing Flight at RAF Gutersloh, undertaking second line maintenance to Major standard and Harrier Field Force repair operations. Promoted to Corporal in 1984, on his return to the U.K. in 1986, he was employed in the Lightning Aircraft Servicing Flight then Lightning Training Flight at RAF Binbrook.
With Binbrook’s closure, he was posted in 1987 onto 72 Squadron at RAF Aldergrove. Here he maintained the Wessex and Puma helicopters which were heavily committed to Operation Banner in Northern Ireland. During this tour, he was awarded the Strike Command Certificate of Merit for Engineering initiative and inventiveness. Promotion to Sergeant in 1990 a move to RAF Benson followed in 1991, onto second line maintenance on Wessex Servicing Flight until its closure, then to first line Wessex on 60 Squadron in 1992. Later in 1992 he was selected to assist in the creation of an Engineering Operations Cell at RAF Aldergrove and, on the project’s completion in early 1993, he moved to the post of trade specialist on the Puma aircraft of 1563 Flight in RAF Belize. Returning later in 1993 to RAF St Athan he was initially SNCO IC the second line Hydraulic Bay, before taking over the engineering documentation cell on the VC10 Major servicing squadron.
In 1995, he was again posted to Ireland, where he worked on the Puma and Chinook Helicopters of 230 Squadron on Op Banner. On promotion to Chief Technician in 1997, he initially led the 30 plus engineers on ‘D’ shift, prior to being made the Airframe Trade Manager. In this role he was additionally responsible for the preparation of aircraft for VIP flying in the province, including transportation of members of the Royal Family. In 1999, a posting to RAF Leeming placed him in Engineering Operations, in the support of the Tornado F3s and Hawk aircraft of, 11, 25 and 100 Squadrons. On promotion to Flight Sergeant in 2007 and as Operation Banner drew to a close, he again served on the Pumas of 230 Squadron as Flight Sergeant ‘X’ Shift. During this tour, he deployed as Detachment Engineering Officer on Operation Crichton, part of Operation Telic in Northern Iraq. As 230 Squadron withdrew from Ireland, Kevin returned to RAF Leeming in 2009 as the interface between BAe Systems and the Tornado Project Team on the Reduce To Produce (RTP) Tornado spares recovery programme.
In 2010 on deployment on Op Fusillade, as part of Op Herrick, he stood up the post of Warrant Officer Quality, Continuous Improvement Team (QCIT) on 903 Expeditionary Air Wing, returning as Flight Sergeant Business Support to RTP at RAF Leeming in 2011.
On promotion in May 2013, he moved to his final posting in the regulars, as Warrant Officer Engineering and Supply Squadron at RAF Honington.
During his career, Kevin has been detached to or led aircraft maintenance detachments, to a number of European countries plus Norway, Kenya, the Republic of Ireland and Singapore and, as a keen rugby player, has toured to numerous locations, including Canada.
On finishing regular service in 2015 , he enlisted as Squadron Warrant Officer in the newly re-formed 607 (County of Durham) Squadron which was based at RAF Leeming. He played a major role in the structuring of the Squadron and in the recruitment of its personnel. Moreover, he not only supervised much of the refurbishment of Squadron buildings and facilities but also, being a an adept handyman, personally undertook their restoration including the painting of the Squadron’s Conference Room – which, in appreciation and in his memory, is named after him.
During his time on the Squadron, he became involved with the Historic Training Flight at Leeming and played a key role in highlighting the importance of the Sqn’s history, sourcing Sqn memorabilia and renewing relationships with the North East Land Sea and Air Museum (NELSAM) at RAF Usworth, where 607 Sqn was originally formed in 1930. Every year, without fail, he led ceremonial duties for the Battle of Britain and Remembrance parades at Durham Cathedral. Indeed, he represented the RAuxAF and the Sqn at the Freedom of Durham parade and the 90th Anniversary in 2020. He was also paramount in establishing key relationships with the Reserve Force Cadet Association in both the North of England and Yorkshire and Humber. A sociable man, he regularly attended station and mess functions – and he always encouraged others to join him.
Sadly, Warrant Officer Hamilton-Sturdy passed away in his sleep in 2022.. Throughout his career, he was renowned for his ability and professionalism, and his loyalty to the Royal Air Force and to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force service was exemplary and unwavering. He leaves his wife Kate, and their three children, Ross, Moya and Ethan. He is sorely missed by them and all others who knew him.
Kate Hamilton-Sturdy and 607 Squadron