When one RAF pilot takes to the sky over Blackpool with his breathtaking routine this weekend it won’t be the first time he has performed it on the Fylde coast – but last time he was firmly on the ground.
Flight Lieutenant Noel Rees, of the 29 (R) squadron, perfected the routine with help from staff at BAE in Warton, where he practised using a state-of-the-art flight simulator.
Employees at the Fylde coast site, where they are more used to flight-testing the Eurofighter Typhoons, helped draw up a series of ribbon diagrams to help visualise the routine planned for this year’s Blackpool Air Show. And since the routine was dreamt up on the Fylde coast, Flt Lt Rees has gone on to wow crowds across the country.
He said: “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 and a ‘dirty’ barrel roll – with the jet’s wheels down – I’d really like this year’s display to be a highlight of the display circuit.”
And the routine will be pushing the fighter jet – as well as his own body – to the limit.
“I will be displaying the full range of the Typhoon’s performance from 9g to -3.5g and speeds of up to 690 mph,” he added.
“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.”
Phil Harrison, a graphic designer in BAE Systems’ creative services team, was at the heart of the design process for the high-flying performance. 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 in 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 on to 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.”
The RAF Typhoon will be making two appearances at the Blackpool Air Show, where it is scheduled to take to the skies shortly before 4pm tomorrow and again at 4.30pm on Monday.