DAILY TELEGRAPH – OBITUARY AIR MARSHAL SIR JOHN BAIRD

Sir John Baird specialised in aviation medicine and rose to become head of the RAF’s medical services before being appointed as Surgeon General of the Defence Force Medical Services. His service on two the RAF’s busiest flying stations stimulated his interest in the medical aspects of high performance flying and he attended No 1 Course at the Institute of Aviation Medicine at Farnborough. In 1970 he was selected to join the top secret USAF unit operating the Lockheed U-2 hight altitude reconnaissance aircraft worldwide. A number of RAF pilots joined the programme and Baird had a special interest in the life support system worn by the pilots. On his return from the USA he served on ‘fast jet’ stations where he took every opportunity to fly to better understand the environment they experienced. He later served at Command headquarters in Germany and the UK and commanded the RAF hospital at Ely. As the head of RAF Medical Services, he was dismayed at the enforced closure of RAF hospitals and the loss of personnel. He fought hard to minimise the effect of these cuts across the defence arena and was highly regarded. One senior colleague described him as, “the most able and distinguished Surgeon General of the late 20th century.”

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