Introducing Wing Commander Philip Eldridge. In Phil’s words, his initial claim to fame is that he successfully navigated an interesting and (at times) exciting childhood in Sydney’s western suburbs. A visit to the RAAF Richmond Air show in the 80’s sealed his fate. At the time he was a student of the excellent Hurlstone Agricultural High School, but had less than optimal academic focus resulting in barely scraping a pass in his HSC.
Phil joined the RAAF in November 1987 as a Direct Entry Pilot, graduating from No. 149 Pilots Course in December 1989. Posted to fast jets, he commenced his fighter training at 76 Squadron. This was followed by F/A-18A conversion in 1991 with his first tour, at 75 Squadron, beginning in 1992.
Fighter Combat Instructor course in 1994 was followed by tours as 75 Squadron Fighter Combat Instructor, 81 Wing as Standardisation Officer, Fighter Combat Instructor Course Director and Executive Officer 77 Squadron.
In 2005, Phil separated from Defence but served in the RAAF Active Reserve at 2 Operational Conversion Unit for the next 8 years. He then re-engaged in the RAAF in 2015 through the Specialist Aircrew scheme. Phil resumed his career as Executive Officer once more at 2 Operational Conversion Unit seeing out the FA-18 Classic before transitioning to F-35s in 2020.
Aviation highlights in his career are many but include over 3600 hrs in the Classic Hornet, operational flying tours in Operations Falconer (2003) and OKRA (2016), and now flying the F35A Lightning - which is a beast!