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The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund

The RAF Benevolent Fund is the RAF's leading welfare charity providing practical, financial and emotional support to all members of the RAF family, from childhood through to old age. We help with issues from childcare and relationship difficulties to injury and disability, and from financial hardship and debt to illness and bereavement.

Appreciation For Ray Hanna By Tudor Owen

Picture of 'Ray Hanna' provided by Tudor Owen

Ray, who was 77 years, joined the Royal Air Force in 1949 having learned to fly in New Zealand in 1947/48. Following training on the Prentice, Harvard and Meteor he was fortunate enough to fly such piston types as the Tempest V, Sea Fury, Balliol and Beaufighter.

His first operational posting was to 79 Squadron, 2ATAF flying FR9 Meteors. In the fifties, he flew nearly all the early British jets including Vampires, Venoms, Attackers, Sea Hawks, Swifts and Javelins.

Ray first led a team of four Hunters in 1957, in 1963/64 was a member of the College of Air Warfare Meteor Team and was selected for the newly-formed Red Arrows as No 3 in 1965.
To the best of my knowledge, he remains the longest serving Leader in the history of the team.

Ray's leadership is widely regarded as making the Arrows the world-renowned aerobatics team they ultimately became and, in recognition of his contribution, he was received a bar to the AFC he had previously been awarded for several feats of airmanship.

Ray retired from the RAF in 1971 for a new career in civil aviation, initially on the Boeing 707 with Lloyd International Airways followed by seven years with Cathay Pacific, again with the 707, and for two years the Lockheed L-1011 Tri-Star. In 1979 he was asked to head a private diplomatic 707 company with world-wide operations.

With his son Mark, who was so tragically killed flying an Me109 six years ago, he built up a vintage warbird collection at Duxford which ultimately became the renowned 'Old Flying Machine Company.' In addition to achieving acclaim on the display circuit, the OFMC has numerous movie credits.

Ray was undoubtedly one of the finest display pilots ever, and regarded by many as the best of the best. Ray displaying his famous Mark IX Spitfire MH434 was a joy to behold, and a sight which will be sorely missed on the display circuit.

Far more important, he was a fine man.

Added on: 1st February 2007


Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
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