When Air Commodore McCoubrey joined the RAF, there were still World War II veterans serving; but by the time he left, the Cold War had ended and defence cuts were endemic; it was a very different world and a very different Air Force. The book describes experiences from McCoubrey’s tours in Germany during the Cold War; in Hong Kong at the time of the Vietnamese Boat People; on Ascension Island just after the Falklands War; in the USA during the first Gulf War, as well as postings to various UK locations varying from RAF stations to Command Headquarters and the Ministry of Defence. There are accounts of Search and Rescue operations, aeromedical evacuation, winter and sea survival schools, accident investigation, international liaison, assorted airborne escapades, the challenges of commanding and then having to close an RAF station and the structural and sociological changes in the RAF over thirty years.
Air Commodore McCoubrey was born and educated in Scotland. From an early age he wanted to fly and winning a flying scholarship allowed him to start learning while still at school. As a medical student he continued to fly with his University Air Squadron as an RAF Medical Cadet. He combined medicine and flying as a Flight Medical Officer in the RAF from 1967 to 1997 serving in Germany, Hong Kong, Washington DC and Ascension Island as well as at various locations in the UK. After leaving the RAF he worked as a consultant occupational physician in industry and in an independent practice in London.
He holds the Diploma in Aviation Medicine and is a Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. On retiring from medical practice he was a magistrate in Oxford from 2001-2016 and is a Governor of the Hayes Dashwood Foundation, which provides housing in London for disabled ex-servicemen.
He has not lost his love for travel and adventure: a few years ago he took part in an expedition to the Ross Sea region of Antarctica, in the footsteps of Scott and Shackleton. Although he no longer flies, he is a keen sailor and takes an active part in the running of the RAF Yacht Club. Now settled in Oxfordshire, he is married to Vivien and they have a daughter (also a doctor), a son and two grandchildren.