What does the program looks like for the Attack Helicopter Display Team’s 2017 Season?
With both Regiments of the AHF being on readiness for operations, we have a busy schedule that involves exercises both for internal training and for wider Army and Defence needs. The AHDT programme rightly needs to fit within those primary tasks and so the modest schedule for this year which is published on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, reflects how busy we are. Along with this the Team need to fit in some down time, and so that balance between work and home life needs careful management. I know from feedback on social media there is some frustration that we aren’t at certain shows. We can answer that by saying that of course we want to be at all the events throughout the season, but that’s just not possible. I know people will understand the balance that needs to be struck and ultimately the most important focus is our primary jobs in frontline Defence.
How many people are in the team?
The Team is current made up of 6 Military personnel along with our Engineers and Pyrotechnics experts. The roles vary from Officer in Charge (OIC), Display Supervisor and Commentator down to the Display Crew and Ground Crew. You can find more details out about the Team by visiting our social media sites:
Do you perform with other jets or helicopters as well?
The Team is primarily a solo aircraft display. We did do a pairs routine in 2015 which proved to be very popular, but due to the constraints listed above, this will be very difficult to repeat in the future. That being said, there are a lot of advantages to a solo routine – a smaller real-estate required, quicker manoeuvres, more pyrotechnic potential to name but a few; rest assured we’ve made sure that we’ve incorporated all those advantages into this year’s routine.
Which events will the Team being displaying at for the 2017 Season?
We’ve only a modest schedule, but we’ve made sure that we are attending the bigger events on the UK calendar. That means we are at shows like the IWM Duxford, RAF Cosford, RNAS Yeovilton’s Air Day, The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), RAF Fairford and Dunsfold Wings and Wheels. We are also attending a number of internal Families’ Days at MOD establishments – we think it’s important to give back to our military and civilian families.
The team is well known for using pyrotechnics, tell us more about that?
JHC receive all the requests from the show organisers. That list is then sent to us and we look at the dates and our forecast of events (FOE) to deconflict our work calendar with the display schedule. As we’ve mentioned a balance is struck with our frontline role always taking the priority.
One of the other Apache Display team is the one from the Netherlands. You guys know each other, are you in contact in some way?
We are only a small Team, so clearly we won’t have as many fans/followers as our colleagues in the bigger teams like the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT), better known as the ‘Red Arrows’. That’s to be expected as they are a full-time team. That being said, we have a loyal group of fans who are really supportive and upload great photos throughout the season. If you’d like to follow us, our details are in the answers above.
Any favourite helicopters besides the Apache?
Of course not! I couldn’t possibly be disloyal about the aircraft that has kept me (and many others) safe over 11 years of flying it – both in peacetime and on operations. But in all seriousness, it really is a great product and rightly deserves its status as the best Attack Helicopter in the world. As a Force, we are looking forward to getting the new AH-64E which will only further that huge capability.
What is your opinion about the Mi-24 Hind?
I haven’t flown or operated the aircraft so I’m not really equipped to respond to that question with any authority other than to say it’s had a long successful service and I’d love to have a chance to fly it. The 2016 Team flew with a Czech MI-35 at the Berlin Airshow which I know they enjoyed.
Let’s say you can choose an airshow to show the capability of the Apache. Which one would it be?
As a member of the Army Air Corps, what is your normal work routine?
The Team is made up of frontline pilots, ground crew and engineers from 4 Regiment AAC. We are always training both on the ground and in the air. The level of that training varies from internal training to working on large multi-national exercises. We are posting our activities (where we can) on social media to give our fan base a feel for our jobs. On a personal level as the Regimental Qualified Helicopter Instructor, I’m the Chief Flying Instructor of the Regiment, so I’m responsible to the Commanding Officer for all aspects of flying training and standards, supervision and flight safety.
Is there a best moment with your time as part of the AHDT?
There are a few memories that stick out for me. I think your first display is always an important one; there are always nerves involved regardless of your experience, but nothing like before your first display! Being part of the first ever Apache pairs display was a real highlight and challenge. Finally, I’d say that displaying at the Red Bull Air Race at Royal Ascot Racecourse in 2015 was a real highlight for me – mainly because of the setup but also for the atmosphere. The fact that the show was at a racecourse on the western outskirts of London meant there were huge amounts of constraints. This meant for some challenging but hugely rewarding flying. I’m sure the 2017 will give the Team and I some great memories and we are thoroughly looking forward to the season.
Thank you very much for your time. Any final words to our readers?
On behalf of the Team, I’d like to thank our supports for their loyalty and feedback. It’s a real privilege to be displaying such a great aircraft on behalf of the British Army, JHC, the AAC and the AHF. Bring on the summer!