Kenneth Hayr

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Kenneth William Hayr
Born 13 April 1935
Whangarei, New Zealand
Died 2 June 2001 (aged 66)
Bromley, Kent, England
Allegiance  New Zealand
 United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1957–1993
Rank Air Marshal
Commands held No. 1 Squadron
RAF Binbrook
No. 11 Group
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Air Force Cross & Bar

Air Marshal Sir Kenneth William Hayr, KCB, KBE, AFC & Bar (13 April 1935 - 2 June 2001) was a former Deputy Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Strike Command and Chief of the Defence Staff (Commitments).

Early Life and Flying Career[edit]

Born in Whangarei, New Zealand, Sir Kenneth was educated at Auckland Grammar School[1] before joining the RNZAF and was sent to Britain to attend the RAF College Cranwell graduating in 1957.[2] He was OC 228 OCU at RAF Coningsby during the introduction of the F4 Phantom and subsequent training of No6 and No54 Squadron.He was then appointed Officer Commanding No. 1 Squadron in 1970 and became Station Commander at RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire in 1974.[2] He attended the Royal College of Defence Studies, after which he took up the post of Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations) in 1980.[2] During this period he was responsible for much of the planning of the RAF's part in the re-capture of the Falkland Islands.[1] Then in 1982 he was made Air Officer Commanding No. 11 Group.[2]

In 1985, he moved to Cyprus, where he assumed the post of Commander, British Forces Cyprus and as such he also held the appointment of The Administrator of the British Sovereign Base Areas.[2] Returning to Britain he was Deputy Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Strike Command from 1988 until being appointed Chief of the Defence Staff (Commitments) at the Ministry of Defence in 1989[2] which in 1990 involved him leading the preparation for Operation Granby.

Later Life and Death[edit]

On retirement he returned to New Zealand and took up the Chairmanship of the New Zealand Aviation Heritage Trust Board, but he continued to split his time between UK and New Zealand in order to continue his love for flying by performing displays in various vintage aircraft.[1] It was in such an aircraft, a De Havilland Vampire, that he was killed during the 2001 Biggin Hill air display.[1]


In 1971 he married Joyce Gardiner: they had three sons.[1]


In 1996, the Inspectorate of Flight Safety moved into new purpose-built accommodation at RAF Bentley Priory and the facility's new lecture theatre was named 'The Hayr Theatre' in honour of Sir Kenneth who was the first Inspector in 1976 (prior to that date the post had been that of Director). Following the closure of Bentley Priory his picture now hangs in the DARS Course Members Tea bar at RAF Northolt in memory of the Lecture theatre at RAF Bentley Priory.

He was also awarded the following honours:


Military offices
Preceded by
P R Harding
Air Officer Commanding No. 11 Group
1982 – 1985
Succeeded by
M J D Stear
Preceded by
R J Offord
Air Officer Commanding Air Headquarters Cyprus
1985 – 1988
Succeeded by
A F C Hunter
Preceded by
Sir Brendan Jackson
Deputy Commander-in-Chief Strike Command
Succeeded by
Sir John Kemball
Preceded by
Sir Anthony Walker
Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Commitments)
Succeeded by
Sir Nicholas Hill-Norton