John is one of Viper's display pilots and this his 3rd season flying displays in the Pitts Special. Like so many pilots he started his love of flying with gliding. Rather unconventionally his first flight was in a single seat glider strapped behind his dad instead of a parachute. John is a graduate in Aeronautical Engineering from Loughborough University, where he learnt to fly powered aircraft with the RAF University Air Squadron flying the Bulldog. John joined the RAF in 1981 and after completing his training flew the mighty Phantom F-4 from Wattisham in Suffolk including patrolling the no fly zone over the Falklands. John later flew the Hawk as a Tactics Instructor operating from RAF Brawdy in Wales. On completion of his instructing tour John flew Jaguars for two tours on 6 and 41 Sqns from RAF Coltishall in Norfolk. John’s final tour was operating as an exchange pilot with the USAF flying the F-16 from Hill AFB Salt Lake City Utah. After 17 years and 4000 fast jet flying hours, John retired from the RAF as a Sqn Ldr in 1999. He joined Virgin Atlantic Airways flying the 747 Jumbo and is now a Captain on the Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft. John’s passion outside flying is running and he has completed the London Marathon twice, though he didn’t win either. He is a regular runner in the Bungay Black Dog and Norwich half marathons. He has 2 sons aged 20 & 23, and lives in Norfolk with his partner Sarah.
Steve is the second Viper display pilot, starting his love of flying with gliding, first flying when he was just 4 years old, strapped into the same seat as his older brother Bob while his dad occupied the other seat. Steve was ready for solo many years before his 16th Birthday so to keep up the flying he attended Instructor courses as a real ‘student’ this was invaluable FREE! flying experience. After going solo on his 16th birthday Steve rapidly became a gliding instructor and was lucky enough to win an RAF Special Flying Award, which meant he was able to obtain his Private Pilots License at the age of 17, before he had a driving license! The gliding club was where you would find Steve during any spare time (Note from Wife "Nothing Changes") building hours glider towing on Pawnee, Chipmunk and Supermunk aircraft.
Steve joined the RAF in 1982 and after completing flying training on the Jet Provost and Hawk aircraft was posted to 6Sqn RAF Coltishall in Norfolk flying the Jaguar. After a tour on the Jaguar Steve was posted to RAF Chivenor in Devon as a Tactics and Weapons Instructor flying the Hawk. An exchange with the Royal Netherlands Air Force followed flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon including operational sorties during the Balkan conflicts. Steve returned from his exchange to again fly the Jaguar with No 41Sqn, and as a Flight Commander on 6 Sqn. Steve’s last tour was as Standards and Evaluation Officer at RAF Coltishall.
Steve left the RAF in 2001 with more than 4000Hrs fast jet flying and joined Virgin Atlantic on the Airbus fleet. Steve is presently a Training Captain on the A330 and A340 aircraft.
Married with three grown up children Steve lives with his wife Tracy in Norfolk.
Francesco was studying at the Politecnico in Milan (Italy), at the age of 22, when he managed to convince his parents that the Flying License was a necessity completion of the Degree in Aerospace Engineering. The high humanistic education of the parents didn’t help them to spot the gentle lie, funding was approved and the PPL was obtained in 1998. Despite the aerospace degree and the passion for aviation, Francesco got fatally attracted by a job opportunity at Ferrari where he successfully worked for 11 years (developing the Maserati Quattroporte, the Ferrari California and the Ferrari FF) until he decided to move to UK and join Lotus. Something went wrong moving from the continent to the island: as soon as he arrived he fell into the dark side of aviation: aerobatics! Basic course with Robin 2160i in 2012, advance training with the Extra200 in 2013 and competing at “Club” level, finally with the real hard-core machine: the Pitts Special S-2B. After an intensive period of familiarization with the unique biplane, Francesco won his first gold medal in Leicester in 2015. Now he is training at “Sports” level and working towards his Display Authorization. Preferred manoeuvre? Vertical roll, of course!
Tim got involved with flying as soon as he could through his school CCF Air Cadets in Maidstone, Kent. Soloing at 618 VGS West Malling aged 17, Tim joined the gliding school as a staff cadet and spent many happy hours there through the mid and late ‘80’s, at the cost of his A Levels.
Moving into a business career which took him all around the world working internationally for, variously, Boosey & Hawkes musical instruments, Boots Healthcare International and Labatt’s Canadian Lager, Tim moved to Spain in 1998 with HP Bulmer, the cider company, where he lived near Barcelona for 14 years. During that time he rekindled his affair with flying and gained his licences for Ultralights and Paramotors, following which he got involved with aerobatics at the Sabadell flying club. Realising he could combine work and play, Tim bought a CAP10 in the UK and took it out to Spain, where he used it to fly for business all over the country and islands. The distinctive red and white CAP10 became a regular sight over the sea by the beaches of Salou as he continued his aerobatic training, at the same time as annoying the tourists.
Back to the UK in 2012 for his two teenage daughters to continue their education here, Tim flies the CAP10 at Tibenham when he’s not keeping Ryanair in business moving backwards and forwards to Spain, where his current import business with Kopparberg cider is thriving.
The CAP10 was originally designed as the basic military trainer for the French air force, and some 300+ were built through the 1980’s. it’s a two seat, side-by-side and fully aerobatic aircraft, which has been extensively used in aerobatic competition and training.