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Our Second President

Squadron Leader STEVE WINSLADE BA(Hons) MAPM MCIArb RAF (Retd)

1998 - 2003

Steve Winslade was a hugely popular choice to succeed Sport as our second President. A positive whippersnapper by comparison, Steve joined the RAF twice. The first time was in 1964 when he was commissioned and went almost all the way through Nav training before falling at the last hurdle. Rather than accept the options then on offer, Steve went instead to the Far East where he became an Inspector with the Royal Hong Kong Police. So effective was he, that he was obliged to leave after a couple of years before the Tongs sent selected bits of him home in a box.

Concluding that facing down the Red Hordes of the Soviet Union was marginally less dangerous, Steve rejoined the RAF as a Fighter Controller in 1967 and did what baby Fighter Controllers do until it was discovered that he could also do hard sums. At this point, he was diverted into the emerging world of computers in air defence, from which he never truly escaped. Nor would he have wished to, for this was Steve's forte, and his operational background meant that sense would henceforth be spoken within the world of technogeeks.

Steve's introduction to Geekland was certainly a challenge, as he joined the LINESMAN Project Management Office where he had specific responsibility for all internal display systems and also played a major role in the organisation and conduct of overall system trials. The challenge then became even more interesting as NATO changed its policy from one of "You-throw-a-brick-at-me-and-I'll-throw-the-wall-at- you" to one of "flexible response". LINESMAN had been designed in the former era and only had to survive an initial attack long enough to allow the nuclear deterrent to be launched - so it was housed in a single unhardened building at West Drayton. Now it had to be changed, in late procurement, to a system capable of survival, and of "graceful degradation", in support of the new philosophy. And so, with Steve's help, what were intended only to be West Drayton's "Standby Local Early Warning and Control" facilities at Neatishead, Boulmer and Buchan were beefed back up to their former capabilities and "SLEWC" entered the Fighter Control lexicon.

Steve survived the transmogrification of LINESMAN with his reputation very much intact and, in 1977, he was appointed as a Flight Commander on Programming Wing, West Drayton, where he was responsible for the management of the team of analyst/programmers maintaining and developing the systems within the Air Defence Data Centre and its associated simulator which was, by then, the main practical teaching vehicle for the School of Fighter Control.

The Branch capitalised on Steve's expertise and experience in 1980 by shipping him to the UKADGE System Support Team and making him the Software Training Manager, responsible, with his staff, for the selection and training of all ADGE programmers, analysts and computer operations staff.

In 1982, Steve was promoted to Squadron Leader and began what was to prove his last tour of duty as GE ADP at HQ 11 Gp, Bentley Priory, where he was the staff officer responsible for every aspect of Information Technology within the air defence system as a whole. He retired at his 38/16 point in 1983.

Steve entered the commercial world just as IT was really taking off, and he happily rode the wave. Initially joining Marconi Radar Systems to work on 3D radar display systems, he quickly moved into the marketing of C3I systems in general and, by the end of 1987, was the regional sales manager for the USA with particular responsibilities for teaming arrangements within the SDI programme.

He was then head-hunted to become the Marketing Director for Cristie Software Ltd but left in 1989 when it became clear that the ADA software language was not going to take off. He then joined PA Consulting, with whom he stayed until 2002. As a member of PA's Project Management Practice, Steve held senior management positions in a number of large and complex programmes. He specialised in project and programme management where strong leadership was required; typically, managing portfolios of projects, complex business change programmes, driving large scale implementations and rescuing projects that had gone off the rails - literally in the case of the allegedly fully automatic, computerised baggage handling system at Denver's new airport!

In 2002, Steve took early retirement from PA and set up his own company, "Steve Winslade Associates". He took the Chartered Institute of Arbitrator's Mediation Course and qualified as a Mediator. Business was booming when, suddenly and tragically, Steve suffered a massive heart attack and died in the Spring of 2003.

And so the Association lost not only its President but one of its founder members and its greatest character. Steve was a big man in every way and it is difficult to imagine any gathering of Fighter Controllers without his massive presence, his flamboyant ties and pocket handkerchiefs, his booming laughter and the ever-present likelihood that he would knock your pint flying with his next expansive gesture.

The Association has since endowed a trophy in Steve's memory and "The Steve Winslade Memorial Award" is presented annually to the student who, in the opinion of the School of Fighter Control's instructors, has shown the most character in tackling the ab initio courses. The trophy takes the form of a silver claret jug - which somehow seems an appropriate memorial to our late, and much lamented, President.