Student pilots at the Royal Air Force station Valley made history recently by becoming the first ones to graduate from basic flying training in the Royal Air Force’s new Texan T1 aircraft.
RAF Valley is now home to two-thirds of fast jet pilot training for the RAF and RN. Aspiring pilots complete Elementary Flying Training on the Grob Tutor at RAF Cranwell, and then move to RAF Valley for the rest of their fast jet course.
First up is basic flying training in the new Texan T1 with 72 Squadron, followed by advanced jet training in the Hawk T2. Students train first with XXV (Fighter) Squadron for the Hawk T2 conversion and lead-in element, then go on to IV (Army Co-operation) Squadron for the advanced, pre operational conversion unit phase.
The first graduate from Texan was Flt Lt Matt Kenealy RAF.
“The purpose of today’s 72 Squadron is to train fighter pilots. It is thus a huge milestone to have our first student complete the course. For Matt, this means he will be awarded his wings but for our whole force team this validates the systems we’ve built,” officer commanding No.72 Squadron, Wing Commander Chris Ball said.
The Royal Air Force received its first Texan T6C aircraft in 2018 and pilot training began in 2019. The Texan is taking over the basic fast jet training role that was previously fulfilled by the Tucano T.Mk 1. A total of 10 Texans were ordered by the Royal Air Force in 2016.