A SENIOR officer and pilot who had a distinguished career in the Royal Air Force has died at the age of 82.

Air Vice-Marshal Sir Richard Charles Fairfax Peirse, pictured left, lived in Lower Bemerton.

He was born into a military family, his grandfather having been an Admiral and his father, also Sir Richard, an Air Chief Marshal.

After school at Bradfield he graduated from The Royal Air Force College Cranwell as a pilot and flew Meteors and Venoms during a three-year posting to Germany.

Successive promotions brought him to Group Captain in 1969 and in that year he was made Deputy Captain of the Queen’s Flight. In 1973, after a year at the Royal College of Defence Studies, he took over as Station Commander at RAF Waddington, home of the Vulcan bomber. He was then Director of Personnel (Air) based in Gloucestershire, followed by three years with the Ministry of Defence in London as Director of Operational Requirements, dealing with procurement.

In 1982 he was appointed Commandant of RAF Cranwell. From 1985 he was Defence Services Secretary with offices in Buckingham Palace and the MOD, liaising between the three armed services and the Sovereign.

In 1988 he was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, the year in which he retired.

He had already been appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1983.

His official duties did not end however, as he served as Gentleman Usher of the Scarlet Rod and Registrar and Secretary of the Order of the Bath.

Sir Richard and his third wife, Lady Peirse, lived in Lower Bemerton for 11 years until his death. The funeral of Sir Richard will take place at St John’s, Lower Bemerton tomorrow and a memorial service will be arranged for a later date.