The British airman, who sports a handlebar moustache in the proud tradition of the RAF, refused to comply when his superior officer in Afghanistan took offence at his facial hair. Showing a bravado akin to that of Biggles, he fought back, eventually convincing the general that his generous whiskers were in line with regulations laid down by the Queen herself.
The moustache was once such a part of the RAF uniform that rules during the Second World War stated: "The whole of the upper lip shall remain unshaven."
Flt Lt Ball was told to cut his back while on a posting with the American Air Force 366 Fighter Squadron, where he operates an F-15 fighter-bomber. The general said that US pilots were only allowed to grow small moustaches and insisted that Flt Lt Ball followed suit, but he refused.
Instead the RAF fighter pilot decided to go above the head of his superior officer and consulted regulations approved by the Queen which set out the permitted size of an RAF moustache. Flt Lt Ball measured his whiskers and to his delight they did not contravene the rules. He took his findings to the general, and after a frank "exchange of views" was allowed to keep the facial hair intact.
Flt Lt Ball said: "The yanks are not allowed to grow a full-length tash. After I was told to trim mine down I had to dig out the Queen's Regulations to prove I was not breaching our own code."