Military Career

Born in 1979, Mike grew up in Biggin Hill, a famous World War Two Battle of Britain airfield in Kent. He attended the Biggin Hill Air Fair every year, where his passion for aircraft and air displays developed at a young age, leading him to join the RAF Air Cadets aged 13.

Having joined the Royal Air Force after finishing his A-levels, Mike’s first tour was teaching Basic Fast Jet Training on the Tucano, where he achieved Qualified Flying Instructor status at the age of 22.

After his instructional duties Mike trained for eight months in Canada and was then posted to RAF Leuchars in Scotland to fly the Tornado F3 as an air defence pilot, including spells as part of the Quick Reaction Alert force responsible for securing the skies of the United Kingdom and the Falkland Islands.

Mike achieved his childhood dream when he was selected to join the Red Arrows for the 2008 display season to fly as Red 3 before then being chosen as Red 7 in the prestigious Synchro Pair for 2009. In March 2010, while leading the Synchro Pair as Red 6, Mike survived a head-on mid-air training collision at a closing speed of over 750 mph. A low-level ejection caused major injuries resulting in surgery and months of rehabilitation before Mike could get back in the air.

Mike left the Red Arrows after his three-year tour of duty came to an end and undertook a staff appointment but was posted back as Red 10, the Supervisor, in 2011. In this role he was responsible for the supervision and safe execution of Red Arrows training and displays, whilst also being the ‘voice of the Red Arrows’ as the team’s commentator and became a familiar face across the air display scene. In 2012 Mike flew as Red 9 in flypasts for major events including the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony and Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Following six consecutive years as the team’s supervisor and commentator, Mike moved on at the end of 2017 to be the Air Safety Manager for the Central Flying School at RAF Cranwell. A tragic accident for the Red Arrows in Spring 2018 meant that Mike was recalled to the team at short notice to fly as Red 3 for the 2018 display season, ensuring the Red Arrows were able to fly a nine-ship display for the RAF’s 100th Anniversary year.

At the end of the season, Mike hung up his red suit after being involved in a record 10 display seasons. In that time he flew 2585 sorties in Red Arrows aircraft, played a part in 700 public displays and flew a red Hawk jet into 46 different countries; as far west as New York and as far east as China.

Mike was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List in 2017 for his services to the Red Arrows, and subsequently received the Masters Commendation from the Honourable Company of Air Pilots in October 2018. He became a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in March 2019.

Civilian Career

Mike left the Royal Air Force in April 2019 as a Squadron Leader after 21 years of service. He became a commercial pilot, flight instructor and a full-time member of the Blades Aerobatic Team, the world’s only 'aerobatic airline' and part of 2Excel Aviation. 

In this role he performed over 150 public displays as 'Blade 3' in the Extra 300 aircraft but also relished in the opportunity to give over 270 passengers the chance to experience close formation aerobatics in a team of all ex-Red Arrows pilots. The sad closure of the Blades in early 2023 led to Mike leaving 2Excel and retraining to fly the BAE Systems Hawk on which he is now employed as an Instructor Pilot and advisor.

In 2020 Mike achieved a second of his childhood dreams; to fly solo in a Spitfire. This gives him the chance to share his passion for vintage aviation with passengers through experience flights in the 2-seat Grace Spitfire. He also holds a Display Authorisation to display warbirds. As a UK CAA Display Authorisation Evaluator, Mike is trusted by the CAA to mentor and recommend the award of display qualifications to other display pilots.

During the Covid-19 pandemic Mike retrained to temporarily fly PA31 Navajo aircraft in a variety of roles for 2Excel Aviation including search and rescue, oil spill response, counter pollution, fisheries protection and training for the British Army.

Mike is a UK board member on the European Airshow Council, providing air display expertise within the European airshow community. He was recently a board member of the Royal Aeronautical Society's Learned Society Board, providing assistance in the oversight of the Society's output and engagement.

Mike is the proud patron of two aviation charities; Fly2Help and the Nick Davidson Memorial Flying Scholarship Trust. The former is dedicated to raising the spirits of people living in difficult situations and inspiring young people as they consider their future lives. The latter provides funding for budding young aviators to get their Private Pilots Licence. Additionally he acts as an ambassador for another two aviation charities; the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group and Aerobility.

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