Used to train generations of pilots and navigators, the Tucano T1 will make its final public appearance this Sunday. The aircraft will retire from RAF service next month after three decades. All the RAF’s fast pilots have been taken to the skies in the Tucano as part of the training. Its last public appearance will be at the Southport air show which runs during 6 to 8 September. Training on the Tucano was mainly carried out at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, in North Yorkshire, and the station is due to close in 2020.
The Red Arrows’ longest-serving pilot, Squadrol Leader Mike Ling, retired from the RAF after 21 years earlier this year. He is now a pilot with another team and will be flying alongside the Tucano at Southport.
The longest serving pilot at the RAF said he wouldn’t have done anything different. “It was fantastic journey.”
The plane had a tandem cockpit – so the trainer would sit behind the trainee rather sitting beside him. You are in a turbo-prop and wearing an oxygen mask. It seems different than usual. It had developed a new way of communicating, it’s something which was appreciated.
It was a basic fast jet training plane for aircrews, built in Belfast. 130 were built for the RAF. They were used to train for formation flying, low-level navigation, poor weather flying and aerobatic handling. A trainee pilot has to fly about 120 hours to be known as a perfect all-rounder.
It was a nice way of brushing skills and offered a good test of airmanship.