Getting the gig!
The 2010 Royal Air Force Hawk display pilot, Flt Lt Tom Saunders, writes for key.aero about the start of his pre-season display activities.
Hawk T1 XX263 enters the paint shop at RAF Valley for its new paint scheme. Image courtesy Flt Lt Pete Smith
Since well before the final airshow of 2009, we have been extremely busy behind the scenes preparing for the 2010 season. Our work began when the 2010 team members were selected by the Officer Commanding No. 208(R) Squadron, Wing Commander Jamie Hunter.
Eligible pilots were invited to apply for the job of Display Pilot back in August. All applicants were reviewed by Wing Commander Hunter and he selected a shortlist of just two of us to go forward to the 'fly-off'. We both flew an aerobatic sequence and were interviewed by Wing Commander Hunter and Group Captain Connell, the Station Commander of 4 Flying Training School (FTS), RAF Valley. I was announced as the 2010 Hawk Display Pilot on September 17, 2009 shortly followed by the rest of the display team members.
XX263 is certainly due a touch-up! Image courtesy Flt Lt Pete SmithOne of the first tasks was to start designing the new paint scheme for the 2010 jet. The Hawk is one of the few RAF aircraft able to have a special paint scheme each year and it is a special privilege to be able to design your own aircraft. The 2009 paint scheme was a big hit, so the pressure was really on to come up with a design that was as good or better! It has been very difficult to come up with a design that is eye-catching and original, whilst retaining a recognisable theme. The Hawk Display has been going for many years and we have seen many different schemes - the hardest part has been finding something new.
There are many significant anniversaries in 2010, including the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, but it was decided that the Hawk should commemorate 50 years since the formation of number 4 FTS at RAF Valley. I wanted my design to echo the red white and blue that was seen on the early Hawks in the 1970s and 1980s while remaining modern and exciting.
I was keen to ensure that there was something special to look at from every angle - you'll notice a tribute to the unofficial emblem of 208 Squadron, the 'Eye of Horus' or 'Flying Shufti'. While it's a shame to lose the logo of the RAFBF, we'll continue to dedicate our fund raising effort to this worthy charity.
The proposed paint scheme. Image courtesy John Fox/Cranwell GraphicsThe design has been approved by RAF bosses and the 'Camouflage Working Group' that ensures it is a safe and appropriate design. I'm extremely pleased with it and can't wait to see my two display jets painted up!
The 50th anniversary of 4 FTS is a hugely significant one for everyone at RAF Valley and my job is to ensure that my display shows the artwork in its best light and also pays a suitable tribute to everyone involved with 4 FTS over the past half century. It's a big responsibility but one that I am looking forward to!
Work has commenced on the first jet - the painters and finishers from the RAF Valley paint shop will be working around the clock for approximately five weeks to finish the job. I'll keep you posted on progress!
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