Stratton Richey, Farnborough's long-serving commentator, briefly swapped his customary perch "sitting in a couple of greenhouses on the control tower" for the back seat of BAE Systems' Hawk development aircraft ZJ100.

Last Thursday Richey took time away from his pre-show preparations to enjoy a "fantastic" flight in the Hawk with BAE Systems test pilot Peter ‘Whizzer' Wilson.

Richey himself denies having a ‘day job' – describing his various flying activities as a day and night hobby, and professes to keeping his fingers crossed that the "bubble won't burst".

These ‘activities' range from flying a Boeing 747-400 for British Airways to flying what he describes as the "world's oldest Tiger Moth".

He is also heavily (if modestly) involved in High Flight – a charitable organisation set up within the Flight Operations department of British Airways which gives air experience flights to disabled and terminally ill children and young people, and to disadvantaged youngsters and those with severe learning difficulties.



Surprisingly, Stratton has had relatively few fast jet flights, though he did experience the ski-jump at first hand in the back seat of a Harrier during the 1978 SBAC show, and flew with the Red Arrows three years ago.

He was therefore delighted when Gordon McClymont BAE's Hawk test pilot, sent him an e-mail suggesting that he might like to look at the Hawk's impressive new EFIS cockpit, and then fly the aircraft.

"I had to think about it for at least three seconds!" Stratton told Flight Daily News, after his flight. The commentator flew the Hawk to RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall at 24,000ft (7,300m), where he descended to low level for an exhilarating ‘tour' of the West Country.

Stratton was impressed by the Hawk's light but positive controls, and was awestruck by the aircraft's cockpit and displays.

"It was very easy to get up to speed quickly" he said, "all the information I wanted was displayed clearly and in a way which was and easy to understand."

Source: Flight Daily News