Dean will be living the dream as the Eurofighter Typhoon display pilot
A Lancashire-born RAF pilot has just landed a dream job.
Dean Rogers is the man who will be wowing the crowds this summer as display pilot of the Eurofighter Typhoon.
So what makes him love his job? Eurofighter magazine asked the questions:
Do you remember watching your first ever display?
I don’t know what year it was, but it was the Southport Air Show, which is my home air show. I’m from Lancashire. From about the age of 10 I became obsessed with aeroplanes — initially the big commercial aircraft — but soon I learned that fighter jets were far more interesting. Then I started to be a little bit of a RAF geek. Growing up I joined the Air Cadets and then the Air Force straight from university.
Can you briefly summarise your career in a few sentences?
When I joined the RAF I was classed ‘ab initio’ which means I’d never flown any front line type before. I went to RAF Wyton, flew the Tutor and then the Tucano at RAF Linton -on-ouse. Immediately after that I was streamed to fast jets and went to RAF Valley flying the Hawk T2. From there I came to Coningsby for my first Typhoon tour. After that I joined No 1 (Fighter) Sqn and did a three-year frontline tour.
That was the best three years of my life to date. Then I became an instructor, gained lots of qualifications and landed this job.
What experiences with No 1 (Fighter) Sqn stand out?
Taking the jet to major international exercises like Red Flag at Nellis Air Base. Red Flag was the first time I really felt part of something. And in Typhoon terms we fully deserved to be there. We were surrounded by world class aeroplanes and never felt out of place because we knew we’d be able to do a good job there. The thing that really impressed me was the level of situational awareness we had thanks to all the sensors and systems. The combination of the performance of the jet, the weapons integration and the onboard sensors made me feel at home in what is a high-end war fighting scenario
Typhoon has always performed really well on Red Flag, which I imagine is partly why the Americans keep inviting us back. As a junior pilot, brand new on my squadron, I was able to compete against the best in combat using a Typhoon … that’s how good the aeroplane is.
How do you rate the aircraft?
From a pilot’s perspective, the aircraft is very easy to fly, which is good because it frees up your mental capacity to achieve your given task — and do it well.
Many aspects of the Typhoon free you up to be able to operate effectively. That’s related directly to what I was saying about Red Flag in that the sensors do a really good job of providing you with situational awareness, whilst not maxing you out and overloading you with information.
When you combine air to ground and air to air capability — roles traditionally performed by multiple different aircraft types — it puts increased workload onto one person. Because of that you need a jet which is able to perform the tasks which maybe needed a second person to perform in the past. It’s all about freeing up your mental capacity.
Over the seven years as a Typhoon pilot have you noticed it changing?
Through the various software drops the aircraft is continually incrementally improving and with it the human-machine integration (HMI) is always improving. When I arrived on Typhoon in 2012 it was good then, but it’s even better now.
Do you remember your first Typhoon solo flight?
Yes, I flew the D-Day painted jet and everybody was looking and taking photographs. The thing that sticks in my mind was the power available. It’s one of the most impressive things about Typhoon. If you speak to pilots who have flown multiple aircraft types they all say the same thing — ‘you’ve never ever felt anything like the power of Typhoon’. That power can get you out of a lot of situations, and it also can make you very effective.
What was it about the display pilot role that attracted you?
I applied because I’d been told by all of the previous display pilots that it is the best flying they’ve ever done in their careers — and some have had very illustrious careers.
It’s a huge honour simply to present a snapshot of everything that is great about the aircraft and the RAF.
I’m not talking about me flying loops, I mean it showcases our ability to deploy all around the world at the drop of a hat, and to be incredibly reliable whilst doing it.
For me it’s about an aircraft that does a great job and that’s relatively easy for the engineers to maintain. Last year, we had close to 60 engagements, yet we didn’t miss a single weekend display due to unserviceability.
That’s because we’ve got fantastic people and a really reliable aircraft.
The display pilot role represents a completely different challenge for me — especially when you’re pulling 9G very close to the ground. Thankfully Typhoon’s aircrew equipment, the G-suits and so on, are awesome.