Kirsty Moore has put in more than 1,500 hours of flying and took on and beat 40 other determined and experienced pilots to clinch her coveted position with the Red Arrows aerobatic team.
Kirsty has just finished her first week's training as the first female pilot to join the squad. Although not the first woman to apply for a place, she is the first woman to gain a place on the team. Flight Lieutenant Moore is training at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire and will feature in the team from next year.
Kirsty will stay with the Arrows until 2012, which means she will feature at the London Olympics opening ceremony. The 31-year-old was chosen ahead of dozens of hopefuls to gain a place on the world-famous display team.
Kirsty, said she was 'delighted and honoured' to be selected. She joined the RAF in 1998. The RAF has had female pilots since 1991, and female fast jet pilots since 1994, but it is only recently that the first women clocked up enough experience to meet the strict criteria for applying to the Red Arrows.
Around 40 pilots apply each year for a place on the team and nine of these are sent on a gruelling week-long competition in Cyprus to test their skills.
All applicants must have 'above average' flying skills, a minimum of 1,500 hours in the cockpit and at least one frontline operational tour in fast jets. Competition is fierce among those who hope to don the distinctive red flying overalls. Across the RAF only 60 out of 2,040 trained pilots are women.
One RAF insider said: 'You may be the most outstanding fast jet pilot but if your personality isn't suited to teamwork you won't make it in the Reds.'
The Red Arrows, celebrating their 45th birthday this year, fly around 90 displays each season and are famed around the world for the quality of their aerobatic shows.
Trademark Red Arrows manoeuvres include the 'Diamond Nine' formation flypast and the 'Bomb Burst', in which the aircraft break formation in different directions, trailing red, white and blue smoke.
Wing Commander Jas Hawker, Officer Commanding and Team Leader, said: 'The shortlist of candidates to join the Red Arrows represents some of the very finest fast-jet pilots in the RAF. 'Their skills, experience, dedication and enthusiasm are second to none.'
Copyright Speakers Corner 2017