The RAF Tutor Display Team Pilot for the 2022 Season is Flight Lieutenant David-John Gibbs of 115 Squadron of Royal Air Force Wittering in Cambridgeshire.
University Air Squadrons (UAS) offer undergraduates a unique chance to sample RAF life and their main role is to attract ambitious and intelligent students into a career within the RAF’s regular or reserve forces. All 15 teach elementary flying training to their students in the Grob 115E Tutor aircraft.
Flight Lieutenant Gibbs is a well-qualified and highly experienced military pilot. He studied Aeronautical Engineering at the Royal Military College of Science before joining the Royal Navy in 1996, where he flew the Sea King helicopter on operational and search-and-rescue missions.
Flight Lieutenant Gibbs said: “It’s an enormous honour to be chosen for this role. We want to attract the brightest and best undergraduates to the UASs, and then hopefully a career in the RAF. For many of them, their first experience of a UAS or the RAF will be when they see the Grob Tutor in a flying display.”
Safety is everything in display flying, and sequences are rehearsed more than 20 times before Public Display Authority is given. Flt Lt Gibbs said: “Every rehearsal is supervised and captured on video. Nobody else uses the airspace or the airfield during the routine, and we also have full crash cover throughout. We actually simulate emergencies too, so that we are as prepared as possible should the unexpected occur.”
This is David-John’s second tour with 115 Squadron. After flying helicopters for several years he chose to specialise in fixed-wing aircraft and joined 115 Squadron as an accredited instructor, he then became an examiner for the Central Flying School before transferring to the Royal Air Force in 2019.
In addition to 115 Squadron, four flying units are based at RAF Wittering. No 16 Squadron teaches qualified pilots to become instructors on the Grob Tutor, No 5 Air Experience Flight gives Air Cadets their first flying experiences and there are two University Air Squadrons; Cambridge and London.
In years past the Tutor display has been seen at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford and the Farnborough International Air show. Combined with the other public displays, and depending on Coronavirus restrictions, the display could be seen by thousands of people this year.
Wing Commander Jez Case is the Station Commander at RAF Wittering. He said: “Flying Displays provide the opportunity for members of the public and the next generation of the RAF to enjoy precision flying at its best, and I am proud to have the Tutor display based at RAF Wittering. Flt Lt Gibbs is an experienced pilot who will use his experience as an instructor to develop a brilliant display for 2022 and I look forward to seeing it in the skies above Wittering.”