HOME IS WHERE THE HAWK IS FOR PILOT PHIL
ONE of the RAF pilots displaying at this summer's Royal International Air Tattoo will have good cause to recognise the view of Fairford below – because he lives there!
Flt Lt Phil Bird, who is the RAF's solo Hawk T1 display pilot for 2012, lives in Fairford, Gloucestershire, with his wife Lucie. He attended Meysey Hampton Primary School and Farmor's Secondary School and served behind the bar at The Bull Hotel in Fairford.
Phil will be the last RAF pilot to demonstrate the BAE Systems' Hawk T1 as the solo display aircraft will be replaced by the upgraded Hawk T2 next year.
The 32-year-old pilot said: "Fairford has been home for me for more than 30 years. It's where I went to school, where my family are and where my wife and I now also live. As a result, displaying the Hawk T1 in its final display season at the Air Tattoo is the absolute highlight of the season for me.
"Becoming a fast jet pilot in the RAF was a life-long dream and the idea of displaying an RAF fast jet in front of the crowds at my home airshow is something I am incredibly excited about."
Phil joined the RAF in 2002 after studying Economics at Manchester University. He was selected to be a fast jet pilot and, after training, was posted to 43 Sqn at RAF Leuchars, Scotland where he flew the Tornado. Having trained as an Electronic Warfare Instructor, Phil joined 19 Sqn to instruct the Tactical Weapons Course at RAF Valley, a role he now performs on 208 Sqn.
Phil's enthusiasm for flying was sparked at an early age by his father John, an RAF pilot himself. Phil's wife Lucie flies C-130 Hercules at RAF Brize Norton.
Organisers of this summer's Air Tattoo are working alongside the Royal Air Force to stage a number of special aerial tributes to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Other RAF participants in the flying display include the Red Arrows, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, an RAF Typhoon, Tornado, Tucano, King Air and the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team.
Air Tattoo Earlybird tickets, priced £34, are available until the end of March from airtattoo.com or by calling 0800 107 1940. All accompanied under-16s go free. Free parking.
March 15, 2012