Interview RAF King Air Display Team

First of all thank you for your time, please introduce yourself to our readers, tell us about your career in the RAF.

Welcome back to the King Air Display Team for 2016. We’re back to celebrate our 45(R) Squadron history in style at air shows across the UK and in Europe this summer! We are soon to reveal the identity of our team, but for now it’s still a secret. The team is composed of the Display Pilot who originally trained on the King Air with 45(R) Squadron and returns to us from extensive operational experience with 99 Sqn on the C-17. The Display Pilot is supported in the cockpit by the Co Pilot who also trained on the King Air and has returned to the Sqn from operations on the Nimrod and Shadow aircraft, which is based on the Beechcraft King Air 350 GT. The Display Manager finished Multi Engine Advanced Flying Training with 45(R) Sqn in October, 2015 and will leave the team in June to begin his operational career on the C-17.

Could you introduce the Squadron and the King Air you are using?

Number 45 (Reserve) Squadron: Today, 45 Sqn trains Multi Engine pilots and Weapons System Operators (WSOps) who operate the mission systems in the back of the RAF’s fleet of multi engine aircraft and will soon see roles on the P* Poseidon when it enters service.

Tell us a bit about the history of the Demo Team.

This is the King Air Display Team’s first appearance performing a Flying Display since the 2012 Display Flying season, the display has been brought back to celebrate 45 Sqn’s 100th anniversary and to showcase the King Air, the training of the crew and the wide range of opportunities for pilots and WSOps hoping to begin a career in the RAF. This year, the King Air will be the only 22 Training Group Display Team as the highly successful Tutor Display Team, Tucano Display and Hawk T2 Role Demo will not be Display Flying.

As I read on your Facebook page, there was a long hiatus for the team, can you tell us the reason for it?

There are a number of reasons why Display Teams don’t run every year, often because the aircraft and instructors are needed to train large numbers of students. Display Flying is a serious undertaking and requires a lot of commitment in terms of flying and work behind the scenes, which can sometimes take up valuable squadron training. However, practice and preparation is well underway for the 2016 Display Season and we are extremely pleased to be Display Flying across the UK and Europe this summer to celebrate 45 Squadron’s 100th birthday!

At first look the King Air is not made for any demo flying, what can you tell us about the flying program, what can you do with the plane during a show?

The Beechcraft King Air is designed as a business aircraft, something it has excelled at and it has outsold all the competitors in its class for a number of years. While it is not designed for Display Flying, it is a very capable aircraft. Every manoeuvre in the Display Sequence allows the crew to climb away with only one engine running should an engine be shut down. The aircraft will fly a short 6 minute display which will consist of a number of high energy manoeuvres from steep turns to wingovers and steep approaches. The key manoeuvre of the display is the Parabolic Knife Edge Pass where the crew execute a steep turn along the display line to the crowd using the rudder to keep the aircraft level. The King Air flies a parabolic curve during the manoeuvre, hence the name. The aircraft is more capable than what it is certified to do. It has an abundance of power which makes it an extremely enjoyable and safe aircraft to fly!

How many people are in the team? What are their task in the team?

Boss – Officer Commanding 45(R) Squadron – To supervise the safe and successful execution of the 2016 King Air Display Team Display Pilot Display Co Pilot Display Manager

Any info you can tell us about the 2016 season? Does the team have a verdict of which show you attend?

We have released our calendar on Twitter and Facebook, please visit us at

Are you planning any special paint scheme for the King Air?

We are hoping to have the aircraft decorated to celebrate the 45(R) Sqn Centenary from its formation on 1st March 1916, more news will follow but you can also find some sneak previews of our ideas at our facebook or Twitter.

Thank you! Any final thoughts?

All of us working with the King Air Display Team are extremely excited to return the Beechcraft King Air to Display Flying this summer so celebrate our 45(R) Squadron Centenary and to showcase the aircraft we fly and training we undertake. Based at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, 45(R) Squadron trains the RAF’s multi engine pilots of the future as well as training the RAFs Weapons Systems Operators (WSOps). Our pilots progress to fly roles in Air Transport, Air to Air Refuelling, Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition Reconnaissance along with their WSOp counterparts. 45(R) Sqn has a rich history and an exciting future ahead of with huge expansion planned for recruitment of both pilots and WSOps to command and control aircraft across the current fleet and also brand new aircraft such as the incoming P8 Poseidon!