In fact, the 2018 RAF Typhoon Display Pilot, had thought about becoming a pilot for almost as long as he can remember. But it was joining 2464 (Storrington) Squadron Air Training Corps which sparked the real interest in pursuing his dream of joining the Air Force and making flying his full-time job.
Flt Lt Peterson, who is based at RAF Coningsby was just 16 when he first flew solo in Viking gliders. He was instantly hooked.
Ahead of this year’s display season, which will see Typhoon take to the skies at air shows across the UK and abroad, he said he considers it to be a “great honour” to be able to display the aircraft in what is a milestone year - the RAF’s Centenary celebrations. He was chosen as this year’s pilot following a selection process involving a formal interview and a display flying test in the full mission simulator.
Flt Lt Peterson informed us that, “to become the display pilot I had to apply and be part of 29 Squadron as one of their instructors”. He noted how thrilled he was to have been selected as “last year he was unsuccessful.”
“I am hoping to show off the jet and its capabilities, making my display a mix of speed and performance,” he said. “There will be a lot of left to right movement to showcase the noise and Typhoon’s immense power and acceleration.
“Unlike my previous aircraft, the Tornado GR4, as soon as you put yourself in a Typhoon you realise that this is a step change in performance and the handling is completely care free. When you select max reheat you really feel the power and acceleration from the incredible Eurojet engines.”
From his earliest days of piloting gliders, Flt Lt Peterson went on to study A-Levels and was awarded a 6th Form Scholarship and Flying Scholarship which he completed at Tayside Aviation in Dundee. He was then sponsored as a bursary cadet whilst studying Mathematics at Liverpool University. However, he remained as keen as ever to keep on flying and in his spare time completed Elementary Flying training on Liverpool University Air Squadron at RAF Woodvale on the Bulldog.
After university, he completed his Initial Officer Training and elementary pilot ground school at RAF Cranwell and then posted to RAF Linton-on-Ouse to complete Basic Fast Jet Training on the Tucano. Before being moved on to the Tornado GR4 in 2003, he had to complete Advanced Flying Training and his Tactical Weapons course at RAF Valley on the Hawk T1. Following this, he completed numerous overseas exercises, before being crossed over to the Typhoon in 2006.
Since flying Typhoon, he has moved throughout various Squadrons and conducted trials on the newest hardware and software standards of the Typhoon, such as the Tranche 1 Evolution Package 1 and the Tranche 2 Phase 1 Enhancement Package.
Finally, he joined 29 Sqn in 2015 where he was primarily teaching pilots electronic warfare and how to operate Typhoon. Flt Lt Peterson contributes to RAF Coningsby’s primary task of defending UK sovereign airspace and has more than 2,000 hours flying time on frontline fast jets.
As part of his work-up for the display season, he visited our Typhoon simulator at Warton, Lancashire, where he conducted a run-through of his planned showcase.
“There are a couple of portions of the display where the gear is down and I need to monitor my rate of roll” he added. “The Flight Control Simulator allows me to do just that.”
Flying Eurofighter Typhoon – new enhancements, lethal capability
Flt Lt Peterson described the Typhoon’s engines and performance “such that it’s the only time I’ve ever flown combat where I need to be at idle for portions of the flight, because it wants to go too fast.”
“The pilot interaction with the new Phase 2 Enhancement software and with Phase 3 Enhancements coming online is just going to make flying the Typhoon even more of a joy,” he added.
“My display aircraft are primarily P1Eb Further Work standard but I hope to display in P2E jets at the end of the year” Jim says.
Weapons integration activity as part of the Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E) and Phase 3 Enhancement (P3E) packages will enter into service this year. For the UK, the packages are central to the achievement of Project CENTURION, the programme which will ensure seamless transition of capability from the Tornado GR4 to Typhoon for the UK fleet.
Industry development flight testing for the P2E programme was completed in 2017, ahead of testing and evaluation with the Royal Air Force which is currently ongoing. The P2E package introduces a range of new and improved long range attack capabilities to Eurofighter Typhoon in the form of the deep strike stand-off MBDA Storm Shadow air-to-surface weapon and the MBDA Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile.
Development flight testing on the P3E package is underway. P3E includes the low collateral, high precision MBDA Brimstone air-to-surface missile, which will equip the aircraft to engage a wider range of threats than ever before.
Flt Lt Peterson added: “The Typhoon at the moment is very capable, but any new weapon that comes to the platform will enhance it. There are so many options available to you in combat and this makes the Typhoon lethal.”