Inspired by his grandfathers who were both pilots, Ben knew from a young age that he wanted to be a RAF Pilot. In fact, he doesn’t remember thinking about anything else as a career and he “loved everything to do with aeroplanes.”
Ben started down the path to becoming a pilot by joining the Combined Cadet Force whilst at school. He then went on to gain his Private Pilot’s License before he could legally drive! Whilst studying Geography at Newcastle University, he joined the University Air Squadron which gave him a taste of life in the Royal Air Force.
Ben joined the RAF in 1997 and finished his flying training in 2000, after which he was selected to fly the Harrier. He served operationally on 1(F) Squadron during the Gulf War of 2003 and later on IV(AC) Sqn in Afghanistan as a Qualified Weapons Instructor before becoming an instructor on 20(R) Sqn teaching young pilots how to operate the Harrier. Ben flew over 1000 hours on the Harrier and operated all over the world (including the ocean – aboard HMS Ark Royal and Illustrious). The Harrier was one of Ben’s favourite aircraft to fly because of its unique hovering ability.
In 2006, Ben was selected to join the world-famous RAF Red Arrows, and in his first year flew in the Red 2 position. The following year he was chosen to become part of the iconic Synchro Pair, flying the dynamic high speed crossing manoeuvres at only 100ft from the ground at 400mph. After leading the Synchro Pair in 2009, Ben was selected to become the next Team Leader and Commanding Officer of the Red Arrows for the 2010 and 2011 display seasons, making him the second youngest in the history of the Red Arrows. During his five years on the Red Arrows, Ben flew over 480 public displays and amassed over 1500hrs display flying. He displayed all over the world from the US and Canada, to the Middle and Far East as well as at home in the UK and Europe.
On leaving the RAF Ben joined Lockheed Martin, a large US Defence firm, as a Business Development Manager working on projects in the Middle East but he continued his display flying. He flew the distinctive Miss Demeanour – a 1950s Hawker Hunter – before joining the Blades Aerobatic Team in 2015. His ‘Blades’ highlight has been taking over as Leader for the 2017 season and he is looking forward to an exciting year ahead.
In 2016, Ben also began competing in the Red Bull Air Race and is now into his second season in the Challenger Cup. He was looking for a new challenge, and in his mind “The Red Bull Air Race is the ultimate flying challenge!”. Ben explains that now that he is into his second season, and has more experience behind him, he can “push a bit harder, find the fastest lines, exploit the conditions and refine the tactics.”
Ben is looking forward to combining both activities and hopes to add a race team to the Blades Aerobatic Team activities.
Ben lives in Northamptonshire with his wife Kirsty and has two children, Olivia and Orson. He enjoys running, skiing, kitesurfing and spending time in the mountains of Wales and the Lake District.