Introducing Group Captain Jason (Easty) Easthope, recent Chief of Staff, Air Combat Group
Easty joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force at the age of 18 and began flying jets at only 19 years of age. In 2002 he transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force where he spent most of his time flying and instructing on the F/A-18 Classic Hornet.
Easty flew F18 Hornet-02 in a single-ship display as a celebration of and a fitting end to the aircraft’s career of more than 35 years and 408,000 flight hours.
His first operational posting was on the A4k Skyhawk with No 75 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force, based at Ohakea.
During his first tour on Skyhawks he exercised throughout South East Asia flying with the Singapore, Malaysian, Thai and Indonesian Air Forces.
In 1996 he went to the UK on exchange for 3 years with the Royal Air Force flying Jaguars. He conducted many exercises, operating the Jaguar in Norway (off the snow!), Germany, Denmark, Italy, France, Malta, Spain, Jordan, Oman, USA, Canada and Alaska. Whilst flying with the Royal Air Force, he was required to conduct operations in support of UN and NATO forces.
In 2002 he transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force
Easty has over 6000 military flying hours, mostly in single seat fast jet aircraft, and will pretty much fly anything with wings.
Military jet aircraft flown include; F/A18 Hornet, SEPCAT Jaguar, McDonald Douglas A4K Skyhawk, BAe Hawk Mk1 and 127, Aermacchi 339C and Albatros L-39C.
Easty has Commanded two Fast Jet Squadrons during his career. He was CO of Number 2 Squadron RNZAF early 2000s, a Skyhawk squadron –which was actually based at Naval Air Station Albatross, Nowra; and of course Number 77 Squadron RAAF Williamtown 2018-2020 flying the F/A-18 Classic Hornet.
Easty enjoys the opportunity to give adventure seekers a small taste of military or high performance flying while conducting adventure rides in aircraft like the Strikemaster, L39 Albatross, Extra300. He is also a qualified low level aerobatic display pilot and enjoys show casing various aircraft at air shows around Australia.
Easty is happily married to Gillian (his school sweet-heart!) and has adult boys.
Unsurprisingly, in his spare time, his hobby is flying planes.