The Fighter Pilots
Officer Commanding BBMF Squadron Leader Andy 'Milli' Millikin
Squadron Leader Andy Millikin was born in 1973 and was educated at Stamford school. He studied Politics and International Relations at Southampton University. With a long held aspiration to become an RAF pilot he joined Southampton University Air Squadron in 1992 flying the Bulldog where he accrued the imaginative moniker “Milli”. He became an RAF Bursar the following year.
After completing his degree in 1995 he joined the Royal Air Force. Once he had finished flying training in 1999 he was privileged to be selected to fly the Jaguar on 6 Squadron at RAF Coltishall in Norfolk. During this tour he took part in exercises in Alaska, California, France, Denmark and Oman. He also flew on Op RESINATE over Iraq to enforce the No-Fly Zone which protected the Kurds from Saddam Hussein. In 2003 he completed the Jaguar Qualified Weapons Instructor course. Milli joined 54(F) Squadron in 2003 where he flew in Oman, Denmark, France, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Norway and Canada. He accrued over 1200 hours on the Jaguar before he was fortunate enough to be selected for an early posting to the Typhoon in 2005. He joined 17(R) Squadron and was involved in the operational development of the aircraft, specialising in its defensive aids system and its capability as a strike platform. The associated trials flying resulted in a large amount of time spent in the Nevada and Mojave deserts.
Milli was promoted in 2008 and posted as a flight commander on 29(R) Squadron where he became a CFS accredited Qualified Pilot Instructor, teaching both RAF and Royal Saudi Air Force pilots to fly the Typhoon. He ran the first Typhoon Qualified Weapons Instructor course in 2009. Because of his air-to-surface experience he was detached to XI Squadron on Operation ELLAMY flying the Typhoon in the RAF’s highly successful mission to protect the people of Libya against Muamar Gaddafhi. That year he was also lucky enough to intercept 2 Russian Bear bombers off the coast of northern Scotland. He joined the Typhoon Mission Support Centre in 2011 but continued to instruct on 29(R) Sqn and fly the Typhoon with the 3(F) Sqn. He routinely conducted Quick Reaction Alert duties to protect the security of the UK’s airspace. That year he joined the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight as a volunteer pilot flying the Chipmunk, Hurricane and Spitfire. He has been the leader of the Synchro display since 2013. The 2016 display season will be his 5th and his first as the “Boss”.
Milli is a third generation RAF pilot; his grandfather won the DFC during two operational tours on Lancasters as well as flying the Spitfire as a Unit Test Pilot. His father flew and displayed the Vulcan bomber and took part in both the Falklands and Gulf wars. His younger brother is a Voyager tanker captain and has flown in Gulf War 2, Afghanistan, Libya and currently Op SHADER. He is a school governor and when he isn’t allowed to fly he enjoys aviation history, running and photography.
Gp Cpt Mike Baulkwill
Group Captain Mike Baulkwill was educated at Stockport Grammar School before reading Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Bristol. Whilst at university he joined the University Air Squadron where he learnt to fly the Bulldog and in 1991 after graduating, he joined the Royal Air Force. After completing officer training and flying training, Mike was posted to No 20 (Reserve) Squadron, the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit.
On successful completion of the course he was posted to No 3 (Fighter) Squadron at RAF Laarbruch in Germany. Here he served on operations flying from HMS Illustrious patrolling the no fly zone over Southern Iraq and conducting peace keeping missions flying over the Balkans. He was then selected for the Harrier Qualified Weapon Instructor course, and on completion was posted to No 1(Fighter) Squadron at RAF Cottesmore, during this tour he became night carrier qualified and once again conducted peace keeping missions flying over the Balkans.
In 2001 Mike was selected to go on exchange, flying the F16 with the Royal Netherlands Air Force. After learning Dutch at Nottingham University, he served on 322 Squadron based at Leeuwarden. On completion of the exchange tour in 2004, he was promoted to Squadron Leader and posted to the Defence Procurement Agency in Bristol as a Eurofighter Typhoon requirements manager. Here he was responsible for the current and future capabilities for the newly introduced Eurofighter Typhoon; in particular he helped develop Typhoon’s new air to surface capability including the integration of the Litening III laser designation pod and Enhanced Paveway 2 weapon.
After 2 years Mike was fortunate to be selected to fly Typhoon and posted to RAF Coningsby to help stand-up No XI Squadron, the second frontline Typhoon squadron. Here he helped the Typhoon Force develop and bring its new air to surface capability into service, deploying the aircraft to the USA in order to conduct Multi-Role (MR) training prior to the formal declaration of Typhoon’s MR capability in June 2008.
In 2009 Mike attended the Advanced Command and Staff Course at the Joint Services Command and Staff College in Shrivenham. On completion he was posted to the Capability Equipment Plan in MOD Main Building, Whitehall. Here he helped advise, programme and manage Defence’s equipment programme changes through both the Strategic Defence and Security Review in Planning Round 11 and later as the equipment lead programmer in Planning Round 12.
In 2012 Mike was posted to RAF Leuchars to command No 6 Squadron. A frontline Typhoon unit, the Squadron supported Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) North throughout his command, whilst also deploying to the UAE, Sweden, USA and Qatar during this period. The Squadron moved up to RAF Lossiemouth at the end of his time in command and now permanently resides at RAF Lossiemouth. In 2014 he was promoted to Group Captain and served as the Personal Staff Officer to the Chief of the Air Staff. He took command of Royal Air Force Coningsby in Lincolnshire on 31 Oct 2016.
Wing Commander Stu Smiley
Wing Commander Stu Smiley’s first ever flight in an aircraft was as an Air Cadet in the Chipmunk at Exeter airport. He joined the RAF as a direct entrant in 1990 and following flying training was selected to be a fighter pilot on the RAFs only Air Defence platform, the Tornado F3 – he never wanted to be a bomber pilot! After nearly 10 years, 2 front line tours and having become a Qualified Weapons Instructor he was promoted to Squadron Leader. After a short staff tour he was selected to fly the F15C Eagle on exchange with the US Air Force at Eglin AFB in Florida where continued in his aspiration to be a real fighter pilot. After 3 challenging, but very enjoyable, years flying Eagles on the beach in Florida he returned to the UK for numerous staff tours, including a year at Staff College. In September 2015 he became Officer Commanding Operations Wing at RAF Coningsby where he has had the privilege to finally fulfil his dream of becoming a true fighter pilot while honouring those who gave so much for each and every one of us.
Stu has 2 teenage children and enjoys cycling, skiing, reading and spending time with his children. 2016 will be his first season on the BBMF.
Squadron Leader Mark Discombe AFC
Squadron Leader Mark ‘Disco’ Discombe was aircraft mad from an early age, being taken by his Father to every St Athan airshow since he was 3 and joining the Air Training Corps, where he first experienced flying in a Chipmunk. After joining the RAF straight from school in November 1989 and completing fast jet training, he was selected to become a first tourist Qualified Flying Instructor, a ‘creamie’. It was during this tour, initially flying the Jet Provost, that he became the 1994 RAF Linton-on-Ouse Tucano display pilot as a 23 year old flying officer.
After completing his weapons training he was selected to fly the Jaguar, which he flew for nearly 10 years. Over this period he amassed more than 2200 hours on type becoming the force’s Central Flying School Agent and Command Instrument Rating Instructor. He also flew peace keeping missions over Bosnia and Iraq, partook in all the varieties of ‘Flag’ exercise at the time and was a key part in expanding the Jaguar’s night attack role. After a short UK staff tour and a NATO tour in Germany, Disco is currently the Deputy Chief Instructor for tri-service Elementary Flying Training based at RAF Cranwell.
Disco was awarded the Air Force Cross on 10 Feb 2017 for safely landing one of the BBMF Hurricanes following a major failure in the oil system. With leaking oil staining the fuselage and windscreen Disco flew the Hurricane back to RAF Coningsby and, with the oil pressure dropping to critical levels and his visibility restricted by oil on the windscreen and canopy, executed a faultless forced landing on the runway and brought the aircraft safely to a halt. Disco had only 30 hours flying on type when he landed from this emergency.
Disco is married with two young children & when he has some spare time enjoys reading, running, skiing and private flying with his family. The 2015 season was his first with the Flight.
Flight Lieutenant Antony "Parky" Parkinson MBE
Flight Lieutenant Antony Parkinson, known as Parky, joined the RAF at 18 and has been flying ever since. He was privileged to be the first pilot to gain 1000 hours flying the RAF's latest fighter: the Euro Fighter Typhoon and has also flown over 1000 hours on 3 other types - Phantom F4, Tornado F3 and Hawk with the Red Arrows. He also flew the F16 for 3 years with the Royal Netherlands Air Force and has over 6500 flying hours in total.
Married to Ann, most spare time is taken up with 4 children; Edward, James, George and Lucy ranging from 17 to 3 years old. This is his 8th year with the Flight.
Parky is now the Operations Officer as well as one of our fighter pilots.
Flight Lieutenant Andy Preece
Andy joined the RAF in 1991 initially as a navigator before re-training as a pilot. His first posting was to the Tornado GR1 where following a successful operational and weapons conversion, he served in Germany at RAF Brüggen with No. 17(F) Squadron. His next tour was as an instructor at RAF Cottesmore where he taught Italian and German Pilots and Navigators, as well as RAF students. During his time on the Tornado, Andy flew numerous missions over Iraq as part of Operations Jural, Warden and Bolton. During his RAF career he has flown the Tornado GR1, Hawk, Tucano, Harrier GR7/T10, Dominie and the Grob Tutor. Andy is a Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI) and a Qualified Pilot Navigator Instructor (QPNI). He was the RAF Tutor Solo Aerobatic Display Pilot in 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2015 during which time he performed at more than 200 public displays. Andy has over 4000 hrs on 12 different aircraft types. In his spare time he enjoys hill walking, cycling and photography. This is Andy’s first year with the BBMF. When not flying with the Flight, Andy teaches new military pilots to fly the Grob Tutor as part of No 3FTS at RAF Cranwell.