Interview – Spanish Hornet Demo Pilot Major Pablo Carretero

Thank you very much for your time, please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us about your pilot career in the Ejército del Aire.

My name is Major Pablo Carretero Herráez. I joined the Spanish Air Force in 2002 and I spent 5 years at Spanish Air Force Academy. I graduated in 2007 as #1 rank of the fighter pilot training course and I was assigned to the 122 SQN in order to fly the F-18 Hornet.

During 2011 I was deployed to Italy for the Unified Protection Operation, a NATO intervention over Libya. In 2012 I was selected to be an exchange pilot with the German Luftwaffe to fly the PA-200 IDS, the Tornado Air to Ground version for 3 years.

In 2015 I returned to my SQN to continue flying the F-18. I currently have 1300+ flying hours on the F-18 and 1900+ in total as well as experience in many international flying exercises: Red Flag (as Mission Commander), Trident Juncture (as Mission Commander), Eurofight, TLP…

Spanish Hornet demo at CIAV 2018:

Since when you are the pilot of the Spanish Solo Demo?

In 2017 I was selected to be the 12th Wing´s Hornet Demo Pilot.

Tell us about the Hornet you fly, is it a good jet for such demo?

In my opinion, the Hornet is one of the best jets for demo displays because of its high level of maneuverability. Nowadays, it doesn’t have any AOA (Angle of Attack) limitation, which allows the pilot to fly very aggressive maneuvers at very slow speeds.

Where did you performed in the year 2018?

This year I performed at both national and international Airshows: in Spain I performed in Salamanca and Getafe. My international displays included Croatia, Slovakia and Greece.

Any story you want to tell us during your 2018 season? A nice memory from an airshow maybe?

When I performed in Croatia, I had the big opportunity to fly in the MIG-21. It was for me a dream coming true because nowadays just a few people have the chance to fly on a Cold War era fighter.

I would like to thank the Airshow´s organization for their hospitality.

Will you be the Hornet Demo pilot for the 2019 year?


What do you usually do when you are not performing as the Hornet Solo pilot at the Ejército del Aire?

I´m an operational SQN pilot. Let´s say that being the Hornet Demo Pilot is my 2nd job. Out of season, I train my display once a month in order to maintain the currency. Besides flying, I´m responsible for the evaluation and standardization of both Wing´s Squadrons.


Spanish Hornet demo at CIAV 2018:

How many people are in the team, including ground crew?

We are 8 people in total: my spare pilot, the Flight Safety Officer, the Public Affairs Officer, 4 technicians and myself.

Who can become the display pilot? Is there a selection?

Minimum requirements are 1000 flying hours on the F-18 and full combat ready capability. Among all the pilots that meet these requirements, there is a selection.

The display at Varazdin was superb, I remember a friend said “best Hornet display ever “. How did you saw your program from the inside?

I enjoyed a lot flying my display over such a beautiful landscape.

Flying in the MiG-21: – Copyright: Major Pablo Carretero


Who decides where does the team fly, at which airshows?

The Spanish Air Force Commander, assisted by his staff, decides where and which SQN goes to a specific Airshow.

Any other solo display you like from Europe? And why?

“Vador”, the Belgian Air Force F-16 Solo Display performs a great display as well. I have met him at several airshows we were both flying during last and present season.

Did you performed with the other Spanish solo and demo team in the season?

No, we are split teams in order to be able to attend to all the Air Festivals we are invited to.

In Europe, Switzerland and Finland also have a Hornet Solo Demo, did you met with the pilots during the season?

Yes, in September I had the chance to meet the Swiss Hornet Solo pilot at the Athens Flying Week. He performed a good display and we even chat for a while about our programs.

Copyright: Major Pablo Carretero

Any favourite maneuver from your program?

The slow speed pass. It´s a really demanding maneuver because the jet is flying at the edge of the envelope of speed and AOA: 80 kts and 45º AOA.

Let´s say you could choose an airshow to perform with the Hornet, which one would it be?

I´d like to attend next year to the RIAT because it´s the World’s biggest Airshow. I really look forward to be invited for the 2019 event.

Is there a webpage where the fans can find the team?

Unfortunately, we don´t have any official webpage at the moment but you will find me on Instagram: @Pilotillo122.

Thank you very much, any final words to our readers?

It´d be a pleasure to me to attend to an Airshow in Hungary and to have the opportunity to show you my display.

Main photo Copyright: Major Pablo Carretero


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