Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice-Marshal D Emmerson (4230086)

David                          b: 6 Sep 1939              r: 1 May 1991            d: 28 Oct 2017

CBE – 31 Dec 1988, AFC – 8 Oct 1982.

Act Plt Off: 30 Jul 1957, Plt Off: 30 Jul 1958, Fg Off: 15 Aug 1959, Flt Lt: 6 Mar 1963, Sqn Ldr: 1 Jan 1969, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1977, Act Gp Capt: 29 Apr 1983, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1983, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1988, AVM: 1 Jan 1990.

xx xxx 1957:   U/T Navigator,

xx Feb 1959:   Navigator, No 203 Sqn.

xx xxx 1962:    Instructor, Maritime Operational Training Unit

 1 Oct 1963:    Appointed to Permanent Commission (General List) in the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

xx xxx 1966:   Attended Specialist Navigation Course.

xx Jan 1967:   Member, Nimrod Development Team.

xx Dec 1969:   Navigation Leader, No 201 Sqn.

xx xxx 1973:   Attended Canadian Forces Staff College.

 1 Jul 1974:      Assistant Air Adviser, Canada.

17 Dec 1977:   Staff Officer Air II (later renamed Air III) - Maritime, Navigation and Electronic Warfare, British Defence Staffs, Washington.

 1 May 1981:   Officer Commanding, No 206 Sqn.

xx xxx 1982:    Commander, Nimrod Detachment , Ascension Island.

29 Apr 1983:   Group Captain - Operations, HQ No 18 Group.

24 Feb 1984:   Officer Commanding, RAF Kinloss.

xx Jan 1986:    Attended Royal College of Defence Studies.

xx xxx 1987:   Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of the Defence Staff.

25 Aug 1989:  Chief of Staff, HQ No 18 Group.

25 Aug 1989:  Chief of Staff, Allied Air Forces Channel and Eastern Atlantic Area.

During the Falklands campaign, he took part in reconnaissance operations around the Islands and the coasts of Argentina.  On 15 Feb 1982, he was aboard a Nimrod of No 206 Squadron when it set the record for a reconnaissance flight of 8,300 miles using Air to Air refuelling (flight time 19 hours 5 minutes).  However six days later this record was broken by another Nimrod of 206, with David Emmerson aboard again, when it completed a mission of 8,453 miles in a flight lasting 18 hours 51 minutes.

Having retired from the RAF at his own request, he became Chief Executive of Elizabeth Fitzroy Homes in 1991 and the Vice Chairman of the Association of Residential Homes in 1994.

Citation for the award of the Air Force Cross.

“Wing Commander David EMMERSON 4230086, Royal Air Force.

Wing Commander Emmerson commands No 206 Squadron based at Royal Air Force Kinloss. Between 21st April 1982 and 6th June 1982, he was detached to Ascension Island to command a force of Nimrod aircraft deployed in support of Operation CORPORATE.  On arrival at Ascension, Wing Commander Emmerson found little in the way of a support organisation. However, during his period in command the detachment doubled in size, an air-to-air refuelling capability was introduced for Nimrod aircraft to operate both within the Total Exclusion Zone and close to the Argentinian coast, and new weapons including air-to-air missiles were received into service. Throughout the period of expansion Wing Commander Emmerson displayed exceptional zeal and patience over long hours of abnormally demanding duties. He not only prepared his crews for operations close to the Argentinian coast and within range of fighter aircraft, but also displayed exceptional leadership and a great sense of courage by captaining each sortie which broke new ground as new equipments, capabilities and techniques were introduced. He never asked a crew to fly an operation which he himself had not already flown and he displayed outstanding leadership and skill in completing each mission successfully regardless of the potential risks to his aircraft and crew. In the course of ten operational sorties Wing Commander Emmerson was captain of the Nimrod which supported the first Vulcan attack on Port Stanley Airfield on 1st May.   He led the first crew to operate within air defence radar and fighter range of the Argentinian bases of Puerto Belgrano and Commodore Rivadavia.  The latter sortie was conducted in daylight in an environment of a. considerable risk to aircraft and crew. Another of his operational sorties was to provide surface surveillance in support of Task Groups overnight on 20th/21st May to cover the amphibious landings on East Falkland involving a flight of 19 hours and 7200 nautical miles. Throughout the period of the Falkland campaign, Wing Commander Emmerson displayed courage and coolness which were a magnificent example to others. While proving himself an outstanding leader of his crews through personal example, un-selfish determination and skill he ensured the achievement of the military aims of his Commander in the employment of the Nimrod.”

(London Gazette – xx Oct 1982)

This page was last updated on 15/09/19

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