Educated at Tonbridge School, Wilson joined the Royal Air Force in 1962. From 1976 to 1978 Wilson served as the Commanding Officer of No. II Squadron. During this time the Squadron took delivery of the Jaguar which Wilson oversaw, flying practice reconnaissance missions. In 1980 Wilson was made Station Commander of RAF Lossiemouth.
In 1990 Wilson was appointed the Commander British Forces Middle East, making him the in-theatre commander for Operation Granby, the British contribution to the Gulf War. He was knighted in 1991 and in 1993 he was appointed Air Member for Personnel and the following year, on 1 April 1994, Wilson became the first Air Officer Commander-in-Chief of Personnel and Training Command. He retired prematurely on 26 August 1995.