Red Arrows selection is pinnacle of flying dream for Bradford pilot

Flight Lieutenant Thomas Bould who is joining the Red Arrows in time for the 2015 season.

Flight Lieutenant Thomas Bould who is joining the Red Arrows in time for the 2015 season.

First published in News
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Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

A BRADFORD man says he has fulfilled a lifelong dream after being selected to become a Red Arrows pilot.

Flight Lieutenant Tom Bould, 32, has been named as one of three new recruits to next season's nine-strong squad for the Royal Air Force's aerobatic team.

The former pupil at Woodhouse Grove School, Apperley Bridge, will take to the skies across Europe from next summer as part of the iconic aerial troupe.

The selection process saw Flt Lt Bould apply in writing, make it to a shortlist of nine pilots, interviewed and then fulfilling a series of flight tests during a spell with the Red Arrows team in Cyprus earlier this year.

Flt Lt Bould grew up in Heaton and left school in 2000 and after a year out travelling, he went to Manchester University to study for a degree in aerospace engineering.

He said: "I feel very privileged to join the Red Arrows. It was an aspiration of mine.

"I always feel like I'm a Yorkshireman still. I go back to Bradford regularly and still have family there.

"It will be six months or so of really hard work coming up. There's not been many before us.

"I feel very fortunate. I've been in the right place at the right time and had some great opportunities.

"From having witnessed what the guys have been through, everything they do is a massive team job in order to get everything going. We go out to Jersey with them in September.

"As long as I'm successful with my work, I will be in the team for three years. Then it will be back to the frontline.

"I had always wanted to be a pilot, but never knew whether I wanted to be a commercial or military pilot."

Speaking on how he will feel next year when he takes his first flight for the Red Arrows, he added: "I'm sure it will be quite a nervous time but there will also be a lot of pride at that point."

Flt Lt Gould is now in Anglesey doing jet training and will return to his base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire next month.

The squadron uses BAE Systems' Hawk T1 jet and are known for its trademark Diamond Nine formation.

His fellow new recruits are Flight Lieutenants Michael Bowden, 33, and Emmet Cox, 35 and all three were featured on BBC2's 'Red Arrows - Inside the Bubble' documentary last month.

Flt Lt Bould joined the Royal Air Force in 2005 and has previously had several deployments to the Falkland Islands and exercises in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

To apply to join the Red Arrows, Royal Air Force pilots need to have at least 1,500 fast jet flying hours, to have completed a frontline tour and be assessed as above average in their flying role.

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