The pilots that fly Britain’s greatest aircraft

The Royal Air Force
Centenary Collection

A new series celebrating
100 years of bravery in the skies

View from the Cockpit

The packaging that comes with each of our Royal Air Force centenary coins was produced in collaboration with the Royal Air Force. In the accompanying booklets you can read insights from some of those lucky enough to fly the iconic aircraft. Here those pilots tell us more about their own experiences of flying the aircraft that are a part of the past, present and future of the RAF.

Sea King Pilot

The Sea King

Many pilots have flown the Sea King, some in a search and rescue role, others to assist at natural disasters or perform a wide range of humanitarian missions. The aircraft has one particularly well-known pilot – His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge. Prince William famously piloted the Sea King, and appears to have thoroughly enjoyed his experience.

"It's definitely advanced flying and it's rewarding, so put the two together and it's a fantastic job… it's unpredictable but at the same time, it's great to get to go out to save somebody's life hopefully or at least make a difference to someone and when you know that they are in trouble you do everything you can to try and get there."

His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, a former Sea King Search and Rescue Pilot

We’d love to hear more about people’s experiences of flying one of these iconic aircraft, or other memories of the Royal Air Force. Visit our RAF Memories page to find out more and read the stories others have shared.

 

The Watchful and Vigiliant Sea King

The penultimate coin in a celebratory collection with a choice of gold, silver or silver piedfort editions finished to Proof standard, and a Brilliant Uncirculated edition.

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Five Coins - One Celebration. The series is already proving extremely popular and the first three coins are already selling fast. Now it's time for the coin celebrating the powerful and versatile Vulcan to take flight.

Secure the 5-Coin Series

Phill O’Dell – the Spitfire

“The Spitfire is a phenomenal aircraft, but it’s far more than just an aeroplane. As a former RAF pilot, I am now privileged to work with the designers of the Spitfire’s engines – the life blood of the aircraft – and to fly the Spitfire on a regular basis. It absolutely lives up to everything it is said to be. You feel part of it.

With most aircraft, the pilot ‘sits on top’ of the plane, but with the Spitfire, it wraps itself around you. It’s the only aircraft where on every single flight I genuinely look out the window, see the iconic wing shape and smile. Every flight, at some point in the air, I think to myself, ‘This is incredible; I am flying a Spitfire.’ It’s more than an aeroplane, more even than a Spitfire. It’s the memories and the legacy of so many people. Of pilots, of engineers and of families.”

Squadron Leader Phill O’Dell (RAF Retd.), Chief Test Pilot and Director of Flight Operations at Rolls-Royce

spitfire

John Hurrell – the Vulcan

“The Vulcan was a delight to fly, highly powered and highly manoeuvrable. As a bomber it was very versatile – during its life it performed in the ‘Blue Steel’ role, high and low level free fall bomber including a strike role, and also in the maritime reconnaissance role. It had high redundancy in all aircraft systems and was capable of being airborne within two minutes on a scramble from cold.

I was young when I first flew it but when I displayed it in 2015, I rediscovered just how well it flew and handled.”

Squadron Leader John Hurrell (RAF Retd.), former Vulcan Captain

Jim Schofield – the Lightning II

“The F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter will completely revolutionise the RAF’s fighting capability. It is incredibly easy to fly – even in the hover – leaving the pilot fully able to concentrate on the staggering quality and quantity of tactical information presented both in the helmet and on screens.

With so many countries operating the aircraft the RAF will have an unparalleled level of interoperability with other nations, and its datalinks allow seamless transfer of information with other platforms. The UK is also integrating a number of world-class weapons that will give the aircraft an unprecedented advantage over aerial, land- and sea-based foes.”

Wing Commander Jim Schofield BSc FRAeS (RAF Retd.), former Harrier and F-35 Test Pilot

Lightning
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