Around 200 Air Cadets and staff logged on to Microsoft Teams for a virtual evening with Squadron Leader (Retired) Mike Ling MBE, former Red Arrows pilot and current pilot for The Blades.
This was an incredibly engaging and interesting talk, allowing cadets and staff to gain an insight into the exciting and daring lives of fast jet pilots, and particularly the levels of skill and dedication required in becoming part of the world-renowned Red Arrows.
Squadron Leader (Retired) Ling started out in the Air Cadets progressing all the way to the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer before joining the Royal Air Force at 19 years of age to train to be a pilot. He was streamed into fast jet training where his path towards the Red Arrows began.
He first was involved in training new pilots on the Tucano’s, before completing his fast jet training to fly operationally in the Tornado F3. This made him eligible to join the Red Arrows and after a rigorous selection process he started his first 3-year tour with the Red Arrows, which involved him becoming part of the Synchro Pair.
After a short time away, he returned as Red 10, the team’s supervisor, for a further 6 years before stepping back from the team to become a safety manager at RAF Cranwell. His final year, bringing his total number of seasons with the Red Arrows to a record breaking 10 years, was to step in for a fellow injured colleague as Red 3.
After retiring from the RAF Mike completed his commercial pilot licence and joined The Blades, the UKs only commercial aerobatics team that is made up entirely of former Red Arrows pilots.
During the talk Sqn Ldr (Ret.) Ling told listeners he had an impressive 1800 flying hours and had completed 2,585 Red Arrow sorties in 29 different Red Arrow Hawk T1s. He also talked about the huge team behind the Red Arrows and the importance of the team across the world, as a true representation of Great British excellence and prowess in the sky.
Moreover, the talk explored the Hawk T1 and T2 aircrafts, the manoeuvres used by the Red Arrows and the different life saving equipment they have onboard. At the end of the evening he reserved time for cadets and staff to ask him a range of different questions.
Cadet James Mottram, 2418 (Sherwood) Squadron, who was lucky enough to get to ask his question to Sqn Ldr (Ret.) Ling said “It was truly a great evening, which I am sure every cadet who attended enjoyed just as much as I did. Thanks to Sqn Ldr Ling for giving us the talk.”
Sqn Ldr Faulkner, South & East Midlands Aviation Officer and organiser of the talk, thought it was a sublime way to spend the evening listening to Sqn Ldr Ling talk about his truly extraordinary time with the Royal Air Force and the Red Arrows and couldn’t think of a better way to inspire the next generation of Air Cadets.