Flt Lt Alex 'Frenchie' Duncan DFC was born in 1976 to a French mother and Scottish father. Brought up near Paris, he came to England in 1995 after obtaining his baccalauréat having secured a Bursary from British Airways to read aerospace engineering at Manchester University. In August 2000, he was commissioned into the Royal Air Force and selected for rotary wing training, qualifying as a Chinook pilot and joining A Flight, 18 Squadron. He has amassed over 2,000 hours flying the Chinook and has seen service in the US, Norway, Italy, Morocco, France, Germany, Holland, Northern Ireland and Cyprus. He has also undertaken operational tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was commended for gallantry. In 2008, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross - the air equivalent of the Military Cross and one of the highest awards for bravery - for two actions less than a week apart. First, he prevented the assassination of Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand Province after his Chinook was ambushed by the Taliban and hit by a hail of rocket and machine-gun fire. Just six days later, he led a formation that twice flew into heavy enemy fire to drop vital troops during an air assault.