'I flew the Queen': behind the scenes with Royal Flight pilot

Safety, comfort, timing: those were the three key words when it came to flying members of the Royal Family. As a former Queen’s Flight pilot recalls, the responsibility brought with it some unique memories

“It was a fascinating job — right place at the right time”. Sqn Ldr Graham Laurie rather plays down his posting to the Queen’s Flight, as personal pilot to the Prince of Wales. Beginning in 1981, it spanned the conversion from the Hawker Siddeley Andover to the BAe 146, and took in a time when Royal air travel was at its height. By the time he retired in December 2000, he’d been around for the end of the Queen’s Flight itself, and its replacement by the redesignated No 32 (The Royal) Squadron. Along the way, having flown the Prince of Wales more than 700 times and completed nearly 2,300 Royal flights, he’d played his part in events of global significance.

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