The History of the Air Engineer

by Flt Lt Derek Stringman

Flt Lt Derek Stringman

I first met Derek, a fellow Sergeant when I joined 30 Squadron at RAF Lyneham in January 1975. I remember a very intense slim young man with a somewhat introverted manner and some serious eyebrows! He was of course a couple of years ahead and experienced, as in those days all the squadrons did Tactical Support as well as route flying.

Derek left 30 shortly afterwards in pursuit of a Commission. We met again when I joined 6FTS, Applied Flight in 1982 where, if I recall correctly, Flying Officer Derek Stringman was Fran Hopkins’ deputy. This book was well in hand by then and I believe it was around this time Derek was unfortunately diagnosed with his terminal illness. He wanted his legacy to be shared and he gave each of us a copy, my original sits proudly in my main bookcase.

In 2013, within the FEAEA, the subject of the book re-emerged and as I was working with BAE Systems Technical Publications and since there is no concern over copyright, I had the book digitised by a friend who had access to some quite sophisticated equipment. The result is this digital copy you have access to.

Irony of ironies on page 96 is Hercules XV179 . . . . On 30 January 2005, this frame was destroyed in Iraq and we lost M. Eng Gary Nicholson, a larger than life character. Particularly sad as I’d trained him at Finningley and served on 47 Squadron with him.

This unique volume is a tribute to a first class aircrew trade forged of necessity and an author who had the fortitude and dedication to plough through the detail contained within.

Thank you Derek, RIP chum.

MEng Brian W May

March 2021

Clicking on the image below will open the file in .pdf format which can be transferred to a Kindle using the Send to Kindle software.

The book is also available in a number of common e-book formats here:

Webmasters Note:

A month after producing this page the association was contacted by Derek’s daughter Louise Skelley. She remembers clearly her father working on the book and was delighted that it lives on with a wider audience. She also passed on the following photos of her father.

Join the Conversation


  1. To see Dad’s book digitised and to know it is appreciated means so much. Along with my Mum Margaret and my sister Louise I am very proud to see his memory and that of the Air Engineer kept alive.
    Our special thanks to M Eng Brian May and Simon Covell and to anyone who reads or has read this book or knew and remembers Derek Stringman.

    1. You are more than welcome Paul, dad deserves it.
      In light-hearted banter with your dad, I always said we should have remained as ‘Flight engineers’ as opposed to ‘Air engineers’ as the proof was IN his book (page 11, 3rd para)! Neither affect the ‘E’ fortunately.
      But of course the big brass presumably got their own way and changed it decades ago.
      I’m glad you and the family are happy that his book is ‘out there’. Whilst not an expert by any means, I do believe it’s quite unique.
      I think your dad’s legacy is quite safe and valued by we flight AND air engineers Paul.
      Best wishes
      Brian (not a Master Engineer for many years)

    2. Good evening Paul
      I found this page a lovely read and acknowledgment to you father.
      I was drawn to this page initially as my Dad is in one of the pictures! I was doing some research (my father sadly was one of the 9 crew killed when XV193 (Hercules) crashed in Scotland. I was wondering if you or Louise could provide some more details?

  2. I never knew Derek, he was later in my career. The book is extremely well written and should be on the bookshelf of every Flight Engineer. I knew many of the F/E’s in the book as I started my career a a Flight Engineer in 1962 and graduated on the Hastings at Thorney Island on course 103, I finished flying the B747 with Cathay in 2000. A wonderful career with many memories as Derek too has had. 14,800 hours of fun and joy with many good lifelong friends along the way.

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