The King Air B200 entered service with the RAF in 2004, replacing the venerable Jetstream T.1 in its role training multi-engine pilots. It is operated by 45 (Reserve) Squadron from RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire. The majority of students arrive with the Squadron having completed Elementary Flying Training on the Grob Tutor and begin the basic phase of the course by learning how to handle a multi-engine turboprop aircraft both in normal flight and emergency situations. This includes the art of asymmetric flying which involves the simulated failure of one engine, creating uniquely difficult handling problems for the pilot. The skills required to utilise radio navigation aids and work as a crew are also taught before moving on to the advanced phase where the emphasis shifts towards developing captaincy, formation flying, low-level operations and airways navigation. The King Air is also the perfect platform to introduce trainee pilots to advanced avionics and familiarises them with the sort of equipment used on the larger types to which they will progress. On completion of the course, successful students receive their coveted pilot's brevet, or 'wings', and go on to undertake a conversion course on their frontline aircraft; such as the C-17 Globemaster, C-130J Hercules or A400M Atlas.
Photo credit: Andy J Donovan