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He returned to Manby in 1969 to be commandant of the RAF College of Air Warfare.
Two years later he commanded the Southern Maritime Air Region, with his headquarters near Plymouth, where he also held two Nato air appointments.
In January 1972 Downey was the senior RAF member at the Royal College of Defence Studies, an appointment which stimulated his academic interests.
He was deeply interested in world politics and the role of the military, and this appointment provided opportunities to discuss and develop his many thought-provoking views.
After a series of appointments as an instructor, in May 1944 Downey joined No 224 Squadron.
In 1960 he became head of the Near East Defence Secretariat in Cyprus.
In 1962 Downey took command of the Experimental Flying Wing at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough before becoming a director of operational requirements at the Ministry of Defence.
With D-Day imminent, the squadron concentrated on cutting the transit routes in and out of the French Atlantic ports.
In September Downey and his crews moved to Milltown in Morayshire, and turned their attention to the Norwegian coast.