In a 38-year career in the Royal Air Force (RAF), Ron Dick flew over 5000 hours in 60 types of aircraft and was recognized as an exceptionally skillful pilot in both fighters and bombers. Born in 1931 in Northumberland, he grew up in London, where he watched as his home was destroyed during the Battle of Britain. The great air battle overhead sparked a desire to become a fighter pilot and in 1946, Dick became a cadet in the Air Training Corps. In 1949, he was selected to participate in an inaugural exchange visit of cadets between the RAF and the United States Air Force (USAF); it was the beginning of a lifelong association with the USAF.
Dick earned his commission and wings at RAF Cranwell in July 1952, and then was posted to 64 Squadron at RAF Duxford. There he flew the Gloster Meteor, and represented the RAF at air shows in the squadron's aerobatics team. Later, as an instructor, Dick flew the de Havilland Vampire and won the Clarkson Aerobatic Trophy in 1955. In 1956, he received the Wright Jubilee Aerobatic Trophy and then moved to the Central Flying School. He flew more than 28 types of aircraft and served as demonstration pilot in the Hawker Hunter, English Electric Canberra, and Gloster Meteor. As another highlight, he escorted Princess Margaret during a Royal Visit.
Next, Dick crossed the Atlantic for exchange duty at Craig AFB, Alabama. He became a flight commander and solo demonstration pilot in the Lockheed T-33 trainer. Returning to RAF Coningsby in 1962, he transitioned to the Avro Vulcan bomber and was the demonstration pilot in 9 Squadron. After two tours at the Ministry of Defence and two tours at staff colleges, Dick returned to 9 Squadron as Officer Commanding. From his base at RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus, he flew the Vulcan to many countries including, New Zealand, Iran, and Ethiopia. After two intervening tours as a staff officer, Dick became Officer Commanding, RAF Honington, and then returned to the United States as Her Majesty's Air Attach.
In 1982, he played a crucial role in gaining the understanding and cooperation of the United States during the Falklands War. As Attach, Dick also helped acquire a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress for the RAF Museum, and then flew it from California to England. In 1984, he became Head of the British Defence Staff and Defence Attach in the United States. Retiring in 1988 to Virginia, Dick was named a Smithsonian International Fellow, and, in addition to writing, served as technical advisor for the movie, Memphis Belle. Dick has served as a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and as a visiting lecturer at Air University.
While commanding 9 Squadron at RAF Akrotiri Cyprus, Ron Dick found a new use for the fearsome Avro Vulcan, one of the Royal Air Force's first jet-engined strategic bombers. Under Dick's leadership, the squadron adopted several Cheshire Children's Homes in Ethiopia. In December of 1972, Dick and his squadron mates filled the bomb bay with food, presents, and medical supplies and then they delivered these much-needed items to children's homes in Addis Ababa and Asmara. It was an ingenious transformation of an aircraft designed as a nuclear bomber into an instrument of mercy that saved children's lives.