South East Wales

Newport pilot Michael Bowden flies high with Red Arrows

Flight Lieutenant Michael Bowden Image copyright SAC Craig Marshall/RAF
Image caption Flt Lt Bowden says the Red Arrows are the "pinnacle"

An RAF pilot from Newport, who has flown on two tours of duty in Afghanistan, has been selected to join the Red Arrows aerobatic display team.

Flt Lt Michael Bowden, 33, is a Cardiff University graduate.

After six months of training, he will fly the Hawk T1 fast jet with the Red Arrows from the 2015 display season.

The world-famous Red Arrows, a team of nine pilots, are based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire and were formed in 1964.

Flt Lt Bowden will fly with the team for three years.

He joined the RAF in 2002 and completed two operational tours of Afghanistan, flying the Tornado GR4.

The former member of the University of Wales Air Squadron said: "The team demonstrates the absolute pinnacle of flying ability and the desire to be part of that team has been there since being a small boy and has only ever grown as the years have gone on.

"The Red Arrows stand out as respected ambassadors for the Royal Air Force and the UK as a whole, both at home and abroad."

To apply to join the Red Arrows, RAF pilots need to have at least 1,500 fast jet flying hours, to have completed a frontline tour and be assessed as above average in their role.

Once they have finished their three-year tour with the team, the pilots return to frontline, instructional or staff duties.

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