With just 47 hours of Lightning flying under my belt I arrived on 11 (Fighter) Squadron on February 20, 1986. Many had passed before me and by a circuitous route I was now the last ab initio pilot to join these hallowed ranks. My flying to date had been mixed – 750 hours on the RAF's F-4M Phantom, a mix of Jet Provost T.3 and T.5, as well as over 100 hours on the nimble Hawk. To say I felt underprepared as to what lay ahead would be a gross understatement, the 47 hours of flying on the Lightning Training Flight (LTF) included some 'sandbagged flights' – a term from the First World War that referred to ballast being placed in the cockpit when pilots flew solo – and the odd sortie I had to re-fly on the training course. I could fly a Lightning at night, do basic air combat, fly on instruments and operate the radar on simple attack profiles.