Being a Red Arrows pilot is a job most people can only dream of.
But somebody’s got to do the job, and the aerobatic display team consists of nine extremely qualified pilots.
As the face of the Royal Air Force, during their flying season (May to September) the team perform at the some of the UK’s most prestigious events.
Prior to their show at Cowes Week, yoppul had a quick chat with Flight Lieutenant Tom Bould to find out about his coveted job.
Why did you join the RAF?
I joined the RAF in 2005 because I had a fascination with planes from an early age. I attended Manchester University where I studied Aerospace Engineering, and it was there that I knew I wanted to be involved with the RAF.
What was the process in joining the Red Arrows from the RAF?
Each year pilots from the RAF apply to be in the Red Arrows, and three new pilots are chosen to replace those that are leaving.
To be considered as a Red Arrow you have to have flown a minimum of 1,500 hours, be assessed as above average in your flying role, and this is on top of completing a frontline tour.
A shortlist of nine applicants are then examined during a selection week of interviews and flying tests.
The chosen pilots then go through six months intensive training where they’ll learn how to do loops, rolls and turns.
What does an average day involve?
In August we’re incredibly busy, and we’re usually flying from Wednesday to Sunday. Our weekend will often get shifted from Monday to Tuesday. Sometimes do we do PR on the ground, set up a tent and meet the public, but our working day depends on where we are performing.
What’s the highlight of your job?
We’re lucky enough to do some pretty high profile fly pasts, such as the Queen’s birthday, which is incredible. But one of the definite privileges of our job is meeting the public, as we’re always so busy.
And what advice would you give to people who dream of becoming a Red Arrow?
Work hard at school, and try to get into flying however you can, such as joining the Air Cadets (Air Training Corps). But just keep on persevering.
Thanks Tom! Catch the Red Arrows in Cowes tonight at 7:20pm.