Royal Navy fighter pilot, Andrew D. “Andy” Auld commanded the men flying and maintaining the Sea Harriers of 800 Naval Air Squadron during the Falklands War. Born in 1945 in Scotland, Auld won appointment to Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth in 1963, where he first began to enjoy flying in the Tiger Moths. Upon graduation and commissioning in 1967, he served a mandatory surface tour aboard the minesweeper HMS Chilcompton before earning his wings in 1971 at the RAFs No. 1 Flying Training School. After more training and conversion to the F-4K Phantom II, he joined 893 Naval Air Squadron aboard HMS Ark Royal. Auld flew operationally until appointed Naval Training Officer and Staff Officer at RAF Church Fenton. After 10 months, he rejoined 893 Squadron and HMS Ark Royal for two more years of operational flying before entering the Royal Naval Staff College in 1976.
Upon graduation, he again returned to 893 Squadron–this time as Executive Officer. Sent to the Directorate of Naval Air Warfare in the Ministry of Defense (MOD) in 1979, he served as the desk officer responsible for overseeing the debut of the Sea Harrier into operational service and the creation of 800 Squadron, the first frontline unit. Auld took command of the 800 Squadron in January 1982, not knowing that a few short months later he’d lead his unit in combat. At 0400 hours on 2 April 1982, Auld was told to bring his squadron to immediate readiness to embark on HMS Hermes. Instead of starting Easter leave that day, he and his squadron began the 8,000 mile voyage to the South Atlantic. Over the next 2 1/2 months, Sea Harriers from HMS Hermes flew 1,126 sorties and scored 16 aerial victories. Auld flew 62 combat missions and downed two Argentine Daggers.
Along with air defense of the Task Force, 800 Squadron proved equally adept in bombing and ground attack. Under his leadership, 800 Squadron’s combat performance proved the value of the Sea Harrier and led to new procurement and modernization programs. Following the Falklands campaign, Auld was posted to Antisubmarine Warfare Striking Forces Atlantic as the Staff Aviation Officer. In 1984, he moved to Norway in the Plans and Policy Division of Allied Forces Northern Europe. Returning to the MOD’s Directorate of Naval Air Warfare in 1987, Auld developed policies and tactics to improve the effectiveness of the Sea Harrier.