Educated at the Judd School, Tonbridge and the University of Southampton, Loader joined the RAF in 1973. Promoted to Group Captain in 1995, he attended the Higher Command and Staff College and then became Station Commander at RAF Laarbruch in 1996.
Promoted to Air Commodore in 1999 he became Air Commodore for the Harriers in 2000. Promoted again, this time to Air Vice-Marshal, he was appointed as Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Operations) in 2002 and Deputy Commander-in-Chief RAF Strike Command, in the rank of Air Marshal, in 2004.
Promoted to Air Chief Marshal in 2007 he became the first Commander-in-Chief of Air Command on 1 April 2007. He retired from the RAF in 2009.