Future Officer Commanding BBMF selected

Header image: Eurofighter Typhoon pilot Sqn Ldr Mark Long has been selected as the OC BBMF for the 2025-2027 display seasons. (Photo: RAF Coningsby Photo Section Crown Copyright)

Squadron Leader Mark Long, a Typhoon instructor with 29 Squadron at RAF Coningsby, is joining the BBMF as a new volunteer fighter pilot for four years, prior to becoming the Officer Commanding BBMF for the 2025-2027 seasons.

Regular readers and followers of the BBMF will know that a tried and tested ‘succession plan’ ensures that each new OC BBMF is sufficiently experienced to fill the post. To achieve this, individuals are chosen, via a competitive selection process, four years in advance of them taking command of the Flight. They then serve as a volunteer fighter pilot with the BBMF for four years, with a primary duty elsewhere in the RAF, whilst gaining the necessary experience on the Flight’s historic aircraft types. When they eventually take over command of the BBMF, for a three-year tour of duty, they then have sufficient experience and the necessary qualifications to train other BBMF fighter pilots, to conduct air tests on the Spitfires and Hurricanes, and of course to run the Flight’s operations.

The current OC BBMF, Squadron Leader Mark ‘Disco’ Discombe AFC, is now entering his final year in command, and will hand command of the Flight to Squadron Leader Mark ‘Suggs’ Sugden in October 2021.

Sqn Ldr Mark ‘Disco’ Discombe (left) will continue as OC BBMF until the end of the 2021 display season. Sqn Ldr Mark ‘Suggs’ Sugden (right) will then take command of the Flight until October 2024. (Photos: RAF Coningsby Photo Section Crown Copyright)

Mark Long (recently it seems that being a “Mark” is an essential requirement for an OC BBMF!) will take over command of the Flight from ‘Suggs’ in October 2024. Mark joined the RAF in 2003, after being sponsored on a RAF bursary scheme through an Economics degree at the University of Warwick. After Officer Training, he completed his flying training on the Tucano and the Hawk, on which he then became an instructor. He subsequently flew the Harrier for a couple of years before becoming a Typhoon pilot with 11 Squadron at Coningsby. Since 2014 Mark has been an instructor with 29 Squadron, the Typhoon Operational Conversion Unit, at Coningsby. He was the RAF Typhoon display pilot for the 2016 display season. His training as a BBMF fighter pilot has already begun, initially flying the BBMF Chipmunks before he converts to the Hurricane during the 2021 pre-season work-up.

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