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Flight Lt. JONNY DOWEN, 2015 RAF Typhoon Display Pilot

Flight Lieutenant Jonny Dowen tells of the journey which led him to become the RAF’s Typhoon Display Pilot…

Personal Life...

Jonny was born in Sutton Coldfield and moved to Javea, Spain, as a youngster before, aged nine, he and his family relocated back to the UK and settled in Devon, where he attended Colyton Grammar School.

Jonny currently lives in Lincolnshire with his fiancé Vanessa and his two children. In his free time he enjoys walking, cooking, travelling, playing squash and supporting the Exeter Chiefs rugby team.

Jonny Dowen: 2015 Typhoon Display Pilot

Where it all began...

“I have always wanted to fly – it is the only thing I can ever really remember wanting to do.

The commercial side of things appealed to me initially, especially during the period when I was living in Spain.

But then when I moved back to the UK and went to secondary school here, I started looking at joining the Air Force.”

From the age of 13 Jonny was an active member of the local Air Training Corps squadron. He applied to the Royal Air Force and was awarded a Sixth Form Scholarship, before subsequently joining the RAF in 2005, aged 19.

Joining the RAF...

After graduating from his Initial Officer Training (IOT) based at RAF Cranwell he was posted to RAF Wyton where he flew the Tutor aircraft as part of his Elementary Flying Training (EFT).

He graduated from Advanced Fast Jet Training (AFJT) in the summer of 2009, before being posted to RAF Coningsby, where he spent four months learning to fly the Typhoon aircraft on the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU), 29(R)Sqn.

He added: “I joined the RAF straight after I had finished my A-Levels at school in 2005. I went straight through the training process and started flying, initially on the Hawk, in 2006.

From there I went on to flying the Typhoon and I started a front line role with 11 Sqn, which I carried out for three years before becoming an instructor in 2013.
I am currently part of 29(R ) Sqn based at RAF Coningsby.

Jonny takes the Typhoon through a tight turn during his display

Getting into the display role...

“One pilot every year gets selected as the solo display pilot. I was lucky enough to be selected, therefore this is my main role at the moment.

We have 14 weekends planned where we are probably going to do close to 50 displays, so it is really busy at the moment, and the likelihood is we will probably pick up another couple of displays towards the end of the year.

Part of my role is to design the routines. Every year when a pilot is selected to be the Typhoon display pilot, it is up to them to design the routines, which is a great perk.

You can really put your own stamp on things and as soon as you are selected you start to look at what you want to do.

Occasionally you are nervous before a display. If maybe the weather is a little bit marginal you might get a few butterflies in the stomach, but as soon as you get into the jet, that just goes.”

Other roles...

“The operational roles we have done so far have mainly been around policing our skies - the Quick Reaction Alert.

We always have two aircraft in the north and two in the south and that is our primary role.

Being a display pilot, it is nice to have two different insights into the abilities of the aircraft.

I have spent a lot of time on the front line, operating the Typhoon tactically. That’s when you really see the change in its capabilities, but the nice thing about being a display pilot is it is almost getting back to basics – it is all about handling, agility and power.

You get to fly the jet to its full capability.”

Johnny has also been deployed on training operations abroad, including in The United Arab Emirates, Oman, USA and the South Atlantic.

Jonny Dowen in his 2015 display Typhoon

The evolution of the Typhoon...

“The capabilities of the Typhoon have moved on hugely.

The performance of the aircraft is as good as it has always been, but it is in the aircraft systems where there has been a marked change – things like the DASS and the radar have moved on massively.

It is always nice to get back to the tactical side of things, because that is so different from what I am doing at the moment, but certainly for this short period of time I get to do it, I am really enjoying being the RAF Typhoon Display Pilot.”

For the Typhoon Display Team's Programme for this year and information on what's involved in the display work-up, visit the RAF Typhoon Display website at