29 (R) SQN Killa’s 2000 Hours in a Tycoon
Flight Lieutenant Rich ‘Killa’ Watts from 29(R) Sqn has become the first pilot in the world to reach 2,000 flying hours on the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Killa, 55, achieved this milestone event on a training sortie in a Typhoon from 29 Squadron at RAF Coningsby, and taxied back in style through a stunning arc of water in salute of his achievement. He was met at the aircraft steps by the Typhoon Force Commander, Air Commodore Ian Duguid and RAF Coningsby Station Commander, Group Captain Jez Attridge, who presented Killa with his bespoke 2000 hours flying patch.
Killa’s first exposure to military aviation was when his father took him to the 1966 Farnborough Air Show at the age of 6. “I was particularly impressed by the Phantom, which I would go on to fly for real 20 years later!”
Killa’s love for flying was cemented during his time attending the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) at Maidstone Grammar School, where he was fortunate enough to receive a Flying Scholarship. Following this, he attended Bristol University, and soon became a keen member of the University Air Squadron (UAS). He joined the RAF in March 1983 and 3 years later, was given the opportunity to fulfil his childhood dream when he was posted to 43(Fighter) Squadron at RAF Leuchars to fly Phantoms. During this tour, Killa amassed over 600 hours on Phantoms. “I flew the longest sortie of my career during this tour, as part of a jet swap of the Phantoms based in the Falklands – 9 hrs 30 mins from Leuchars to Ascension Island. I have no idea why they made us do it all at night!”
In 1989, Killa transferred to the Tornado F3 where, over the course of over 15 years, has served on 5, 25, 29, 56 and 229 Squadrons. He served 5 tours on Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the No-Fly-Zone over Southern Iraq as well as numerous detachments to the Falkland Islands. Incredibly, Killa also clocked up over 2000 hours on the Tornado F3, putting him in a very unique club of fighter pilots who have achieved this feat on two different aircraft.
Killa transferred to the Typhoon in 2005, where he has served as an Instructor Pilot on 29(R) Sqn for the last 11 years, making him the most experienced Typhoon Pilot in the world! He also continues to serve in support the Station’s Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) role, protecting the skies over the United Kingdom 24hours a day, 365 days a year.
In over 30 years of flying fast jets in the Royal Air Force, Killa has flown a staggering 6000 hours and is known as a true gentleman of the skies, whose professionalism and enthusiasm for the job is truly humbling to all those who have the privilege to fly with him.