Having spent the previous four years in Industry as an Industrial Chemist, Paul “Trip” Preston joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1981 aged 22, and following his graduation from the RAF College Cranwell went on to earn his wings (and the trophy for ‘Outstanding Officer and Leadership Qualities’) flying the BAe Hawk at RAF Valley. Further flight training on the BAe Hawk at the Tactical Weapons Unit RAF Brawdy, led to the highly sought after posting onto the last Operational Conversion course for the English Electric (BAC) Lightning. Unfortunately this tour of duty was brought to an untimely close after breaking a wrist playing Rugby. ‘Trip’ was then reassigned to the Electronic warfare countermeasures squadron, flying English Electric Canberra and 20 months after that onto the Tornado GR1 at the Tri-National Tornado Training establishment at RAF Cottesmore. Further Tornado weapons training followed at RAF Honnington, prior to a front-line Strike Attack posting at RAF Bruggen in Germany for the last years of the ‘Cold War”. ‘Trip’ then returned to the UK in 1991 as a Pilot Navigation and Tactics instructor at RAF Finningley. From there ‘Trip’ was seconded to British Aerospace to fill an posting to 7 Squadron Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force, at Dharhan to support the Al-Yamamah Project. On his return to the UK on this occasion he went to RAF Conningsby as a Simulator and ground-school instructor and was Officer Commanding the Royal Air Force’s Air Combat Simulator, from where he retired in 1997.
‘Trip’ then spent 5 years with a civilian company, Hunting Aviation, flying BAe Hawk’s (on loan from the Air Force) From Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose, on a Ministry of Defense contract, which involved flying as an aggressor, predominantly on NATO Naval exercises. Throughout his flying career and amongst numerous overseas detachments, ‘Trip’ spent approximately 9 years in Instructional posts, Instructing in the air, in simulators and classroom, as well as being a Combat Survival and Rescue Officer and Squadron Flight Safety Officer.
‘Trip’ moved to Indonesia in 2003 and initially taught in schools, then lectured at President University, before changing roles again by becoming a Hotel General Manager from 2009 until 2014.