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Flt Lt Jon Bond on Flying the Tucano

Published: 05 Dec 2019   updated: 03 Feb 2020


On the Air Tattoo Blog this week we've spoken to 'Red 7', Flt Lt Jon Bond, about the Shorts Tucano! 'Bondy' displayed the Tucano during the 2012 season and is now into his third season with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows.

The Tucano was retired from RAF service in October after three decades of training RAF pilots and impressing airshow crowds. Jon tells us a bit more about his time on the Tucano.

What part did the Tucano play in your RAF life?

As a student, the Tucano was the first dual front to back cockpit I had flown in and it gave you a real sense of things to come as a fast jet pilot in the RAF.

As in instructor, it was my first "proper job" in the RAF having come straight from training myself. It was a fantastic platform for students to build the fast jet skill set and mentality whilst also providing a challenge for the instructors in some aspects of its handling characteristics when trying to nail that perfect demonstration.

How long were you the Tucano display pilot and did the experience help when preparing for the Red Arrows?

I was the display pilot for a year in 2012 and it certainly gave me a flavour of the handling skills required of a professional aerobatic display pilot. It also gave a great insight into the rules and regulations that govern display flying - all of which certainly helped in the transition to becoming a Red Arrow.


Above: Jon displaying at RIAT 2012

What was the Tucano like to fly?

The Tucano was a very nice basic jet trainer to fly. Each aircraft was hand-built so each had their own, subtly different, handling characteristics. With a top speed of 300kts it provided a great platform in terms of a step up from the Grob Tutor but a good intermediary before the Hawk. With its rudimentary cockpit, we had to rely on core flying skills with little or no "electronic" aid to help navigate or handle the aircraft.

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