TANK MURRAY AFC
Born in 1965 and educated at the Wavell Secondary School and Farnborough Sixth Form College, Tank joined the Royal Navy in 1986 on a Short Service Commission as a direct entry pilot. He completed standard officer training at Dartmouth and then elementary fixed wing training at Topcliffe in Yorkshire before joining 705 Squadron at RNAS Culdrose in 1988 for helicopter training.
He gained his Wings in 1988 and went front line as a Sea King Mk5 ASW "Pinger" pilot in 1989 with 814 NAS joining HMS Invincible in the USA, he then converted to the MK6 ASW variant. Selected for training as an Instrument Rating Instructor in 1991 this led on to Qualified Helicopter Instructor training in 1995 with multiple instructional tours on both 706 and 810 NAS's where he was upgraded to B1 in 1997 and A2 in 1998.
Later that year he joined HMS Illustrious as Deputy Lt Cdr Flying, although he stayed fully flying current throughout this appointment.
His first venture into AEW flying the "Bag" on 849 was with the Mk2 in 1999 when he then served on both 849 A and B Flights until 2000 when he went back to ASW teaching on 810 NAS, which included a trip to Sierra Leone just after the conflict (unfortunately only for 27 days). This was followed in 2002 by a tour on 820 NAS as the Training Officer before being re-appointed as the Senior Pilot during Operation Telic (Second Gulf War) before the ASW variant was withdrawn from RN service in 2003 to be replaced by the Merlin Mk1.
The Sea King is his first love and Tank elected to stay with this type and was appointed to 771 NAS as the Maritime Counter Terrorism Flight Commander where he managed to creep the MK5's mission into every aspect of this role and gain his Night Vision Goggle Instructor qualification. In 2006 he was appointed as the Training Officer and then Executive Officer of Gannet SAR Flight, undoubtedly the best flying experience of his career (and allowing him to qualify as a Mountain Flying Instructor), carrying out Search and Rescue (SAR) in the Scottish Mountains in all conditions, being awarded the Air Force Cross for gallantry, and also volunteering for a tour to Afghanistan with the UK Aviation Detachment.
In 2009 he then moved to the AsaC Mk7 variant of the Sea King with 849 again before moving to the newly commissioned 857 NAS in 2012 and completing a further 4 tours to Afghanistan, also assisting 854 NAS with dust training having become an Environmental Training Instructor. He was awarded a Master Air Pilot Certificate post this tour.
Lucky enough to be appointed back to 771 in 2014, again in the SAR role, he stayed there until 2016 when the RN handed over SAR aviation responsibilities to the Coast Guard having personally completed over 400 rescues.
His last Sea King tour was then back on 849 where he served until it decommissioned in September 2018 completing 3 tours to Op Kipion in the Persian Gulf before being the final RN Sea King pilot very sadly landing the last AsaC Mk7 into HMS Sultan for disposal as the Sea King finally went out
A short tour as the Flight Safety Officer at RNAS Culdrose then followed before a conversion to the Merlin Mk2 in 2019 and the start of a tour on 824 with the plan of building airframe experience before re-qualifying as an instructor. Unfortunately appointing requirements resulted in a very short notice appointment as the Deputy Command Flight Safety Officer (DCFSO) in 2020 – this very sadly signalled the end of his RN flying career, as time will be too short to refresh post this appointment before his terminal date in 2025, but he has been fortunate enough to gain more flying hours than any other currently serving RN pilot with 8817 in total, over 500 of these on NVG, and nearly 8400 on the mighty Sea King.
Post his current DCFSO tour the plan is for him to return to Culdrose as Lt Cdr Flying for his final 3 years before he retires at 60 after 39 years service, but that will depend on future appointing and life choices.
Married with 3 children and owning a house in Helston he plans to stay in Cornwall until endex with his garden, many pets (mostly tortoises) and other hobbies to fill his time.