Find out who will be answering your questions in the live Q&A in Part 1 of REME Aviation - Auster to Apache.

Brigadier (Retd) Nick Knudsen

Brigadier Nick Knudsen retired in 2008 after the successful delivery and fielding of the Apache and closed the production contract with an underspend of £100M! His last years of service were running the Attack Helicopter Programme and fielding it 4 years ahead of schedule on operations in Afghanistan. During this time, the support and procurement organisations in Defence cascaded from single service led to DE&S resulting in wider challenges for all; he assumed the additional roles of the Head of Defence Helicopter Engineering and Safety Policy, Commanding Officer of Aircraft Branch REME and Principal Aircraft Engineer of the Army. Prior to this he was Head of Engineering and Logistics in Joint Helicopter Command where he mounted the Air Assault of Iraq in Gulf War 2. He has extensive aviation experience having been the Engineering Authority for all Anglo-French Helicopters (Puma, Lynx and Gazelle), Commanded 71 Aircraft Workshop REME where elements deployed in support of Gulf War 1, and served in both the Far East and Germany in Aircraft Engineering appointments.

Colonel Stuart Nassé

Colonel Stu Nassé was commissioned into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1997. An Aeronautical Engineering graduate of Loughborough University, he was immediately posted to command an Armoured Recovery platoon in Germany and swiftly on operations in Bosnia. His military aviation career began after his training as a Close Support Platoon Commander, and subsequently 2IC of 71 Company, 7 Air Assault Battalion REME. He deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003 with the first Joint Helicopter Force on Op TELIC as the Army Engineering Liaison Officer and BEME, returning to take command of 32 Regiment Royal Artillery Workshop, the first aviation engineering officer to do so. He commanded 3 Regiment Army Air Corps Workshop deploying on Op HERRICK as the Senior Engineering Officer, Joint Aviation Group, with engineering responsible for all UK rotary wing and unmanned aviation. He assumed command of 7 Aviation Support Battalion REME in March 2016, providing equipment support to Army Aviation worldwide. Post-command he returned to the Army Headquarters into the Strategy branch, with responsibilities including NATO engagement, the planning for the Integrated Review and the institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic, before promoting into his current appointment.

Colonel (Retd) Andy Allen MBE

Col Allen attended the REME Officer’s Long Aeronautical Engineering and then moved to the first of 8 appointments in REME Aviation as second in command 4 Regiment AAC Workshop. He subsequently commanded 660 Squadron AAC LAD in Hong Kong and went on to Command 1 Regiment AAC Workshop. He attended the Guided Weapons MSc and joined the Apache Project Team serving in two appointments, firstly as SO1 Airworthiness then as Assistant Director Ops and Support, moving on to Team Leader Special Projects Multi Air Platforms. His final tour was in Joint Helicopter Command overseeing logistics support and airworthiness during the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Colonel (Retd) Mike Crabbe

Qualifying in 1967 as an E, I & R (now known as Avionics) Technician, he served in UK and Germany and qualified as an Artificer Avionics in 1973. Commissioned in 1976, he held a variety of non-aviation appointments in training, engineering and Equipment Support in UK, Germany, and Hong Kong. His REME Aviation appointments included Equipment Support, Project Management, and the command of 70 Aircraft Workshop REME. He retired from the post of Chief Aircraft Engineer in 1997 and in industry managed the training of Apache Aircrew, Groundcrew and Technicians.

Major (Retd) George Bacon MBE

George joined the RAF in 1975 and trained initially on Bulldogs and JP3s, winning the Sword of Merit. After qualifying as an Officer, he was streamed for fast jet training and moved on to the Jet Provost Mk3a. Unfortunately, he was grounded for medical reasons after an air incident and medically discharged from the RAF. Whilst grounded he returned to his long-standing enthusiasm for broadcasting and developed a career as a presenter.

Fortunately, George enjoyed a full recovery from the problems that had caused his grounding. After a spell as an Education Officer in the Army, was declared fit for flying and selected again for aircrew training, this time with the Army Air Corps. He was awarded his wings in 1981. He served in flying roles, including photo reconnaissance and surveillance in various European theatres, the Gulf and Canada, where he also qualified on both float and ski planes, becoming a specialist in manned airborne surveillance projects around the globe and consultant to the wider defence Industry.

George moved to the Army Air Corps Aviation Standards Branch and subsequently became their Air Displays Manager, with responsibilities for the 'Blue Eagles' and the Army Historic Aircraft Flight. As well as a TA reserve pilot, he was also Head of Recruiting, Pilot Selection and Displays for the AAC and a Civil Aviation Authority Air Accident Investigator. He remains CEO of the British Air Display Association, Chairman of Army’s Historic Flight Charitable Trust, historic aircraft display pilot, Flying Display Director, an active Ambassador for Aerobility and a broadcaster and airshow commentator.

Major (Retd) Derek Walker

Derek was born in Swansea on 14 December 1939 and was apprenticed as a Vehicle Mechanic at Army Apprentice School, Beachley, Chepstow (1955 – 1958).  He then retrained as an Aircraft Mechanic on No. 10 Course in 1958 at Technical Training School, RAF Middle Wallop.  His first posting was to Malaya, with 656 Light Aircraft Squadron with Auster Mk 9’s.  He then returned to the Army Air Corps Centre, Middle Wallop in 1961 employed on Auster and Skeeter.

Having successfully passed Aircraft Artificer Course No. 8 he was posted to 18 Flight AAC, HQ 1 Wing, BAOR in 1963 maintaining Allouette 2, Beaver, Auster, and Skeeter. He was detached to British Guiana, with 24 flight (655 Sqn), 27 Flight (654 Sqn), and 25 Flight, (1 Wing AAC) in 1964 where he met and married his wife. 

After time at Aircraft Engineering Training Wing (AETW), Middle Wallop as an instructor, he completed the All-Arms Commando Course, and was posted to 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron, (3 BAS) in Singapore. His duties included seaborne and jungle operation on HMS Bulwark and AS Intrepid, including ‘Operation Burlap’ and flood relief in East Pakistan with Sioux and Scout.  He returned to Plymouth with the Squadron, incorporating the UK and Malta commando flights.

On promotion to WO1 (ASM), he moved on to manage the UKLF Aircraft Standards Team at Middle Wallop returning to HQ Commando Forces in a non-aviation role. After commissioning in October 1974, he had a short time at AETW, Middle Wallop before he returned to 3 BAS Light Aid Detachment (3 BAS LAD) as Officer Commanding in December 1974. In that tour he was deployed to Denmark, Norway, Malta, Cyprus and NI and took the Gazelle through cold weather trials in 1975.  He moved to 70 Aircraft Workshop, Middle Wallop as OIC Production where they completed the first Lynx Major Servicing.

Leaving aircraft engineering for a while, he was posted to 50 Command Workshop, Hong Kong, as 2IC in 1981. This was a unit comprising around 300 Hong Kong civilians, 100 UK soldiers, 50 Hong Kong soldiers and 50 Ghurkha tradesmen. On promotion to Major, he returned to BAOR in October 1983, to 71 Aircraft Workshop, as OIC Theatre Standards and later OC C Coy, and Aircraft Battle Damage.  In 1987 he moved away from aviation again and commanded 2 Field Workshop in the Falkland Islands Logistic Battalion, creating the Joint Force Workshop, and then moved on to Belize Logistic Battalion, as Force Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (FEME) and Office Commanding 16 Field Workshop. Back in aviation, he returned to UK at Netheravon as OC LAD, 7 Regt AAC, incorporating 656, 658, 666 Sqn LADs and 2 and 8 Flight Detachments, operating Lynx, Gazelle, Scout and A109s, He completed his service as OC Training Company, at the School of Aeronautical Engineering Middle Wallop in 1994.

Civilian employment involved various engineering contracts in aviation, covering production and resources management, shipping and dangerous cargo handling including the auditing of Quality and Health and Safety.

Watch Part 1 here