Keith Collister
Education Forum

Biography of Flight Lieutenant Keith Collister

Keith was born on 14 January 1964. He was the first son of Madge and Walter Collister and a first grandson. He was very wanted and very loved.

His childhood was spent growing up in the Isle of Man. From an early age he loved maths and aviation . He joined the Air Cadets as a teenager and along with Training camps and drill experienced the joy of vomiting in a helicopter with several other young men.

He won a scholarship from the Royal Air Force (RAF) to study Maths at Manchester University and spent his weekends at RAF Woodvale learning to fly.

He graduated from Manchester University in 1985 with a First in Maths and went immediately to RAF Cranwell to commence Officer training. An arduous few weeks followed but he passed out from the college having won the prestigious Hicks Memorial trophy for the best all round cadet.

He started his flying training on Jet provosts and after the initial training was streamed to fly fast jets. Before he started his training on Hawks he popped back to the Isle of Man to get married to Alison who went with him to RAF Valley in Angelsey. At RAF Valley he learnt to fly low over the countryside and to do aerobatics it was exciting and challenging.

After 6 months at RAF Valley and 6 months at RAF Chivenor Keith was streamed to fly single seat jets, he had the choice of the Harrier or Jaguar. He had a trial in a helicopter to get the idea of the hovering action of the Harrier jump jet but decide to go for the Jaguar (maybe the memory of that trip with the air cadets all those years ago)

The RAF Jaguar squadron s is based at RAF Coltishall in Norfolk and that is where he started his career proper with the Royal Air Force. In August 1989 troops were deployed to Iraq for the impending Gulf war. Keith was one of the first pilots to be called up and one of the least experienced having flown operationally for just 18 months. In Iraq, waiting for news as to whether they would go to war the troops practiced sorties at much lower levels than usual, down to 100 ft above ground level to evade radar detection. Sadly on 13 November 1990 Keith was on one such sortie and crashed into a sand dune and died. The accident report stated that the terrain was very uneven and difficult to judge. He is missed by all who knew him.

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