Red Arrows lead pilot

Squadron Leader Dicky Patounas, Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

What do you do?

I'm team leader of the Red Arrows, which consists of 100 people: 10 flyers and 90 others. We're training at present, so I fly three times a day, half an hour at a time. The level of concentration when I'm in the air is absolute. You can't let your guard down. I love that. You come back physically and emotionally drained. It's all high-G. Imagine following a car weaving along a motorway, six feet behind it, at 100mph for 30 minutes.

But imagine it at 400mph. Every 20 seconds there's a decision to make.

It's definitely a thrill. It's a very emotional place, the cockpit.

How did you get the job?

I always wanted to fly. I graduated at 20 with my wings - it was a dream come true. I was 27 when I was accepted by the Red Arrows: I just couldn't believe it. Being a Red Arrow is the best pure flight job in the world.

I had two years helping ready the Eurofighter Typhoon for flight in the UK before returning to the Red Arrows as team leader.

Does reality match the dream?

No. Everyone has a perception of you swanning around, jumping in a plane and travelling around the world, but it's lots of hard work. My dream job? To walk on the moon.

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