Air Chief Marshall Sir Christopher Moran: Second-in-command of the Royal Air Force

The sudden death of Sir Christopher Moran, who collapsed while taking part in a triathlon at the age of 54, means the RAF has lost an officer who looked destined to lead the force. As Commander in Chief Headquarters Air Command, he was the RAF's second most senior officer. He was widely tipped to become Chief of the Air Staff, having risen steadily through the ranks since winning his wings in 1978.

In his varied career he first flew Harrier jets and then had spells with NATO and in the US. He served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia and in many other parts of the world. The Harrier was one of the loves of his professional life: he flew the plane and instructed others on how to fly it. It even provided him with a nickname, Boggy, after his craft once slid off a runway and into a bog as he made a landing.

While he no doubt accumulated the standard quota of rivals and adversaries as he rose through the ranks, colleagues spoke highly of him. One contributor to an internet blog for airmen wrote: "Good to know that the good guys can reach the top without having to tread on other people's heads on the way."

Another added: "I flew with him, he flew with me - none finer, a true bona mate - RIP Boggy, we loved ya."

Born in 1956 in Urmston, Manchester, Christopher Hugh Moran attended Bishop Ullathorne School in Coventry. He later went to the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, or Umist, where he gained a degree in mechanical engineering. In later life he went on to take an MA at King's College, London.

At university he had an RAF university cadetship, later training as a pilot at RAF College Cranwell. Following training he was posted to fly the Harrier in Germany, Belize and the Falklands, as well as flying sorties from the carrier HMS Illustrious. He just missed hostilities in the Falklands, arriving weeks after the Argentine surrender.

In 1985 he was posted on exchange duties with the United States Marine Corps at Cherry Point air station in North Carolina.

After two years he returned to RAF Wittering to become a flight commander on the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit. It was the base he used to visit as a youth to admire the Harriers.

Promoted to Group Captain in 1996, he served as a staff officer at Headquarters No 1 Group before taking command of RAF Wittering in 1997. Here he had his second contact with royalty, in that Princess Diana had been its honorary air commodore.

Speaking to the media he said: "She brought great happiness. There are a large number of photos of her and of the young princes around the station and in squadron diaries."

In these and other comments he displayed a natural talent for the diplomatic and effective turn of phrase, which led one who knew him to speak of "a silkiness and charm that inspired all those around him."

In 1999, after attending the Higher Command and Staff course, he served as a divisional director at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, where he completed an MA in Defence Studies. Promoted Air Commodore in 2000, he moved to the Ministry of Defence as Director of the Air Staff. He took up his next appointment as Chief of the Defence Staff's liaison officer to the Joint Staff in the Pentagon in November 2002.

He was involved with Iraq at several points. He patrolled the no-fly zone over the north of that country following a Security Council resolution. Later, while at the Pentagon, he took part in the planning and execution of the invasion of Iraq.

Promoted to Air Vice-Marshal in 2003, he was appointed Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group, where he had responsibility for all Royal Air Force and Royal Navy fast jet forces, and for sustaining those forces in operations over Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2005 he was appointed Assistant Chief of the Air Staff at the Ministry of Defence, where he was responsible for RAF strategy development during a period of significant change.

He maintained a high level of personal fitness, enjoying skiing, water-skiing and sailing, serving as Admiral of the RAF Sailing Association. He was also president of RAF Triathlon, and was taking part in a triathlon event at RAF Brize Norton when he suddenly collapsed.

The event consisted of a 400 metre swim, a 22km bicycle ride and a 5km run; he was running the last of these when he died.

At the time of his death he had served for 14 months as the RAF's second most senior officer. Describing him as a highly respected and courageous leader, Chief of Air Staff Sir Stephen Dalton said his death came as a huge blow to the RAF and to defence in general.

Alistair Bruce of Sky News, an old friend of Moran, said of him: "He was a fit, engaging and highly-energetic commander, an inspirational man with a large smattering of fighter pilot humour and daring. The jet epitomised his character. Everything had high octane in it, and his eyes danced about, taking in every detail of any situation before setting all at ease. I would have followed him anywhere."

He won many honours and decorations; last year he was named a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.

In 1980 he married Elizabeth Jane Goodwin. He is survived by her and by their son and two daughters.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Moran, pilot and RAF officer: born Urmston, Manchester 28 April 1956; Commander-in-Chief Headquarters Air Command 2009-; Air Aide-de-Camp to the Queen, 2009-; married 1980 Elizabeth Goodwin (two daughters, one son); MVO 1993, , OBE 1997, KCB 2009; died Brize Norton 26 May 2010.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice