Three new pilots will join the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, for the 2015 season.
The latest recruits include pilots with experience of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Flight Lieutenant Thomas Bould, Flight Lieutenant Michael Bowden and Flight Lieutenant Emmet Cox will begin training with the Red Arrows later this year, ready to display as part of next season’s nine-strong team.
As the public face of the Royal Air Force, the Red Arrows assist with recruiting into the service, contribute to defence diplomacy and support wider national interests by representing the United Kingdom and its industry.
Based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, the team uses BAE Systems’ Hawk T1 jet, with the squadron being famous for its trademark Diamond Nine formation.
Red Arrows’ pilots stay for three years and are selected following a gruelling process that involves flight tests, interviews and other exercises.
Flt Lt Michael Bowden Flight Lieutenant Bowden, 33, who was raised in Newport, south Wales, and is a graduate of Cardiff University, joined the Royal Air Force in 2002. After being posted to II (AC) Squadron at RAF Marham, he completed two operational tours of Afghanistan, flying the Tornado GR4.
The former member of the University of Wales Air Squadron said: “I have always had a passion for pure flying and the Red Arrows hold the top trump card in that arena. The team demonstrates the absolute pinnacle of flying ability and the desire to be part of that team has been there since being a small boy and has only ever grown as the years have gone on.
“The Red Arrows stand out as respected ambassadors for the Royal Air Force and the UK as a whole, both at home and abroad. In terms of a recruitment tool, surely the team is second-to-none. It is the reason I applied and never gave up. It is such a huge privilege to think I can be part of the team that can have that influence on our future generation.”
To apply to join the Red Arrows, Royal Air Force pilots need to have at least 1,500 fast jet flying hours, to have completed a frontline tour and be assessed as above average in their flying role. Once they have finished their three-year tour with the team, the pilots return to frontline, instructional or staff duties.
The squadron, which first displayed to the public in 1965, is renowned as one of the world’s premier aerobatic teams and has performed more than 4,500 times in 56 countries.
Flt Lt Thomas BouldFlight Lieutenant Bould said this pursuit of excellence and a reputation for the highest standards first attracted him to the idea of flying with the Red Arrows.
He was born and raised in Bradford, West Yorkshire – attending Woodhouse Grove School before studying at Manchester University and being a member of Manchester and Salford University Air Squadron.
The 32-year-old joined the Royal Air Force in 2005, was the Tucano display pilot in 2010 and was selected to fly the Typhoon multi-role combat aircraft. He was posted to 1(F) Squadron and during his frontline tour had several deployments to the Falkland Islands as well as exercises in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.
He said: “It was the professionalism of the Red Arrows and the excellence of what they do that stood out to me and inspired me to apply to join. I believe the Red Arrows firmly stand for these qualities and I will be immensely proud to be part of the team.
“Aerobatic flying will be very different to frontline missions, but incredibly demanding and rewarding in different aspects.”
Flt Lt Emmet Cox Flight Lieutenant Cox, 35, was educated at Long Bay College in Auckland, New Zealand, before studying at the city’s university. He emigrated to the UK in 2001 and joined the Royal Air Force a year later.
Following training, Flight Lieutenant Cox was posted to RAF Lossiemouth to fly the Tornado GR4. As a member of 617 Squadron (The Dambusters), he flew missions over Iraq. In 2010 he was chosen to become a Qualified Flying Instructor and returned to 72(R) Squadron to fly the Tucano.
He said: “There are many aspects that have inspired me to join the Red Arrows but the biggest is simply the flying. The type of flying the team does is like no other and I consider it to be the pinnacle of aviation.
“Before I ever took the controls of an aircraft, I was amazed by the Red Arrows as an onlooker at air shows. Now that I am an RAF pilot and have an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes, I have even more respect for the type of flying the Red Arrows achieve day in, day out.
“To have the opportunity to be part of the Red Arrows is incredible, and I’m looking forward to challenge myself daily in the pure handling of the aircraft. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and constant practice over the winter, but when the team is rewarded with the red flying suits and the right to display to the public, it will all be worth it.”
The new recruits will succeed those pilots who are finishing their three-year tour with the Red Arrows at the end of the 2014 season – Flight Lieutenant Mike Child, Flight Lieutenant James McMillan and Flight Lieutenant Martin Pert.
Visit www.raf.mod.uk/reds for more information on the Red Arrows or follow @rafredarrows on Twitter. Use #reds50 for the latest Twitter updates on the Team’s 50th display season.
Source / Author: RAF
Editor: Mr Andrew Morton
Photographs: SAC Craig Marshall (RAF)
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2014