The Typhoon Display Team work-up begins with the selection of the Display Pilot, usually in Oct/Nov of the preceding season. The selection is conducted by the Officer Commanding (OC) 29(R) Squadron, Station Commander (Stn Cdr) RAF Coningsby and the Typhoon Force Commander (TFC) with the final decision being made by Air Officer Commanding (AOC) No 1 Group (1 Gp). The selection is based on previous experience and ability as a Typhoon Pilot. Currently the Display Pilot is selected from the Qualified Pilot Instructors serving on 29(R) Squadron, the Typhoon Operational Conversion Unit (OCU).
Once selected the new Display Pilot shadows his predecessor for the end of the season and has the opportunity to fly in display practices flown at RAF Coningsby for currency. During this time the Display Pilot is tasked with designing his display sequence. The sequence is usually made up of previously approved aerobatic manoeuvres that can be flown in Typhoon. New manoeuvres require AOC 1 Gp to approve them. The Display Pilot must design not only a Full Display but also a Limited and Flat sequence used in the event of poorer weather.
During sequence development the Typhoon simulators are used to check the sequence before the airborne work-up is started. The simulator is also used throughout the work-up to prepare the Display Pilot for bad weather (including strong winds) and to practice aircraft handling in the unlikely event of an emergency during a display to ensure complete safety for the crowd.
The airborne part of the work-up starts with practices of the sequence at a base height of 5000ft, which is the normal minimum height that all Typhoon pilots can perform aerobatics. These flights are usually flown using straight line features such as coastlines, roads or runways in the local area surrounding Coningsby. The full sequence must be flown at least 6 times before the work-up (or down in effect) continues. Following successful completion of the 5000ft display practices the sequence is approved by AOC 1 Gp and the Display Pilot conducts a check flight with his Supervisor. He is subsequently cleared to practice below 5000ft and moves his work-up to overhead Coningsby.
The work-up continues progressively stepping down base heights from 1500ft to 1000ft. Around 2½ weeks is spent at each height flying on average 1 practice each day. At each height a minimum of 6 full displays are flown before finally stepping down to the minimum height to fly aerobatics in Typhoon of 500ft. At this height level turns and flypasts can also be conducted at 300ft and 100ft respectively.
The end of the work-up is the awarding of the Public Display Authority (PDA). AOC 1 Gp personally visits RAF Coningsby watches the display, reviews the work-up and if content grants the Display Pilot PDA, meaning he can then demonstrate the outstanding performance of Typhoon in front of crowds of hundreds of thousands of people during the summer display season.
The Typhoon arrives low andfast (100ft/500kts) (1) before turning hard away from the crowd, with full reheat, into a high G Barrel Roll (2). Flt Lt Ryan Lawtonthen turns back to face the crowd, pitching into the vertical for the on crowd loop (3).
Pulling out from the loop, the Typhoon will break hard in front of you, before flying along the crowd line and performing a Canadian Break away (4). The aircraft will then pitch back towards the crowd and perform a unique Velocity Vector Roll (5). The Typhoon appears to ‘skid’ around the sky as it twists and turns in front of the crowd, before breaking away and performing a second vector roll (6) to turn back along the crowd line.
Ryan will now fly 1 ½ rapid Aileron Rolls, finishing upside down for the inverted pass (7). He will then push fully forward to -3g, forcing all the blood to rush to his head to enter a negative ½ Cuban (8). An Aileron Roll will then be flown before pulling through in a rapid descent to 100ft. Accelerating at nearly 50mph per second in full reheat (9), the aircraft will reach just under the speed of sound before breaking hard away at 9g.
Each time Ryan pulls 9g, his body weighs the same as an F1 car and he has to work hard to remain conscious as all the blood is forced down into his legs.The Aircraft continues this high G turn before pointing back at the crowd and entering a hesitation Aileron Roll (10). The aircraft will then break hard away and perform a min radius turn(11).
You can really feel the heat from the EJ-200 engines in full reheat as the aircraft points away from the crowd before pitching up into a ½ Horizontal (12). As the Typhoon rolls onto its back, it is held inverted pointing down at the crowd forcing fuel vapour to vent from the top of the fin.
Ryan then rolls the right way up, before breaking hard along the crowd line. Another Canadian Break is flown (13) and the aircraft then breaks hard away, rapidly decelerating for the slow speed pass (14). The incredible excess power can then be seen as the aircraft enters a slow speed,tight climbing spiral (15).
The aircraft is rolled inverted directly in front of you, before pulling down through the vertical providing a unique view of the underside of the aircraft(16). Pointing away from the crowd,the aircraft accelerates and performs an Aileron Roll before breaking back along the crowd line at 9g (17).
There’s now a great photo opportunity as the aircraft is held on its side, right in front of the crowd for the “Knife Edge” pass (18). Ryan then pushes away for an outside turn before rolling the right way up and pitching back towards the crowd and lowers the landing gear (19).
As the landing lights come into view, the staggering performance and “care free handling” of the Typhoon is demonstrated once again, as the aircraft pitches up directly in front of the crowd for the low speed “dirty loop” (20).
The aircraft then turns hard away and performs another tight corkscrew roll (21), before turning back towards the crowd line. Ryan will accelerate to 450kts whilst descending to 100ft for the final pass. The Typhoon is pitched into the vertical at 9g, rocketing skyward as Ryan performs 3 Aileron Rolls in the climb to 8000ft (22).