Reach for the sky

Have your say

A top pilot has visited BAE Systems in Lancashire to practice his proposed air show routine ahead of a number of shows

One of the RAF’s top pilots has been hand-picked to show off an aircraft born in Lancashire to hundreds of thousands of aviation fans this summer.

Visit: Flt Lt Rees visited BAE Systems in Warton to try out his proposed air show routine in a Typhoon flight simulator

Visit: Flt Lt Rees visited BAE Systems in Warton to try out his proposed air show routine in a Typhoon flight simulator

Flight Lieutenant Noel Rees, a member of 29 Squadron which is involved in training pilots, has been chosen as the Typhoon Display Pilot to perform at air shows across the country this summer.

The display team is sponsored by BAE Systems, the defence, aerospace and security firm which carries out final assembly of the Typhoon jet at its base in Warton, near Preston.

Flt Lt Rees recently visited the facility to try out his proposed air show routine in a Typhoon flight simulator used by BAE Systems’ own test pilots to try out the latest software upgrades destined for the aircraft.

He said: “The aim of the Typhoon display team is to demonstrate not only the outstanding performance of the Typhoon in the air but also the hard work and dedication of the personnel who support the Typhoon throughout the year on operations in the UK and overseas..

“I will be displaying the full range of the Typhoon’s performance from +9 to -3.5g and speeds of up to 690 mph.

“This year I hope to deliver one of the most dynamic displays to date and, in a much more confined area, bringing the action closer to the crowd.

“With new manoeuvres such as the inverted half-Cuban, a ‘dirty’ (with the jet’s wheels down) barrel roll I’d really like this year’s display to be a highlight of the display circuit.”

Noel added: “The team is also excited about showcasing Typhoon with a unique aircraft paint scheme.

“The impressive design was developed over the winter training period to make the aircraft even more outstanding for this year’s display season.”

Noel was accompanied on the trip to Warton by his team manager Flight Lieutenant, Andy De Gier, and his engineering manager chief technician, Rob Huckle.

As well as sponsoring the team, BAE Systems has also offered its expertise to help the team visualise the display it will take to air shows including the Blackpool Air Show in August and Southport Air Show in September.

They will hit the road next month heading for their first show at RAF Odiham, Hampshire on 1 May.

Phil Harrison, a graphic designer in BAE Systems’ creative services team, has worked up a series of ‘ribbon diagrams’ which bring the Typhoon display to life.

He said: “I’ve worked for the company doing graphics for 35 years now.

“The first flying display ribbons I did were for the then new Tornado air defence variant and I n those days I used to go to RAF Coningsby and spend a day with the pilots.

“I had to sketch the scenario out, bring it back to Warton and hand-paint it onto a large coloured photograph, then get it photographed again to go into the brochure.

“Now I take the data from the Typhoon Display Team’s presentation and convert it using computer drawing software, sending the drafts backwards and forwards to the display pilots.

“So, although it’s easier in many ways it still needs an artist’s eye to get everything looking correct.”