Following a secondary education at Manly Boys High School, he joined the Royal Australian Air Force in June 1962 as an aircrew cadet, and graduated as a pilot the following year.
He was posted for operational service during the Vietnam War for a tour from April–December 1969 with the United States Air Force"s 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron. Riding was Officer Commanding Royal Australian Air Force Base East Sale from 1987 to 1990. During the 1990s, Riding held senior positions in the Royal Australian Air Force (Director-General
Programs & Resource Management, Department of Defense
1990-1993; Director-General Defense Force Plans & Programs (Def) 1994-1995.
Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Materiel) 1995-1997). And in July 1998 he was appointed Vice Chief of the Defence Force.
He retired from the Royal Australian Air Force in the summer of 2000 as the end of his term as Vice Chief.