On the job: The Red Arrows engineer

Image by Tony Hisgett (CC by 2.0)

Jordan Thorburn is an engineer with the Red Arrows, one of the world’s leading aerobatic display teams. We caught up with him about his role

What does your role with the Red Arrows involve?

My role as one of the mechanical engineers on the Red Arrows involves maintaining and repairing any mechanical or hydraulic system on the Hawk T1 aircraft. It could vary from simply changing a tyre to changing an engine.

What’s your background?

At the start of each year in the RAF, we are asked if we wish to selected for one of the teams within the squadron (Dye team or Circus). After putting my name forward I was extremely lucky to have been selected as one of two SAC (T) mechanical engineers on the Circus team for the 2017 season. My background as an engineer was actually on Chinook helicopters, working at RAF Odiham. From there I went back to RAF Cosford for further training and was lucky enough to be posted straight to the Red Arrows after my training.

What did your training involve?

I started my training for Circus back in September. We underwent full aircrew medicals to make sure we were fully fit to fly.  We also had to undertake hypoxia [oxygen deficiency] training where we were put on a simulator and had to recognise systems in ourselves in case we experience it whilst flying. Other training involved completing parachute training, sea and land survival courses and public relations training. After passing tests we were given our first flights, as some of us had never experienced G force before.

What’s a typical day like?

Our day will involve going in early to perform a before-flight servicing on our jet. We can then pack the jet with our kit, ready for take off. We then get into the back seat of our jet and fly to our operating destination with the team. We will undertake a turnaround servicing and fix and problems that may have occurred during the flight, readying the jet for the days display. We can then see the jet off to display to the public. After it’s finished, we’ll do a turnaround servicing on it, preparing it for the next flight. We may have to transit to another destination so in which case we would pack the jet up again and get into the back for our flight.

What’s been your career highlight?

My first flight so far has been my highlight. It was just such a buzz to actually be flying with the Red Arrows. It’s something I never thought I’d do in my life so to actually achieve it was incredible.

What’s your advice for others wanting to join the Red Arrows?

Work hard and always be willing to learn. Set yourself goals and work towards achieving them and most importantly enjoy yourself.

Find out more about careers with the RAF at www.raf.mod.uk/recruitment

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