Northamptonshire female pilots encourage the next generation of aviators to aim high for International Women's Day

A Northamptonshire-based aerobatic display team welcomed a group of air cadets to its base at Sywell Aerodrome to inspire and encourage more female pilots to think about a career in the aviation industry.

Wednesday, 8th March 2017, 4:19 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:07 am
Northamptonshire female pilots got together to encourage the next generation of aviators to aim high for International Women's Day

Yesterday evening, female Blades pilots played host to Northamptonshire air cadets to offer valuable advice about the industry.

Kirsty Murphy, Blades pilot and former RAF fast-jet pilot, gave a talk about her flying career.

She said: "During my time as part of The Red Arrows Team, I received lots of letters from young girls wanting to know more about how to become a pilot in the RAF but to also say they were inspired to fly after seeing the Team display.

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The Blades, Sywell Aerodrome

"It’s important to give younger girls the awareness and the knowledge to consider a career in aviation – after all, it’s not an industry just for men. This is why an event such the ‘2Excel Women In Aviation Evening’ is such a great opportunity to talk personally to some young girls and hopefully inspire them to set their ambitions high.

"I was lucky to be introduced to RAF life at an early age through my dad who was an aircraft navigator. I became hooked on flying from the age of 11 and knew that’s what I wanted to do."

Ms Murphy flew the Tornado and Hawk aircraft's and went on to fly with The RAF Red Arrows in 2010.

She is the only female Red Arrow pilot in the country and her current role as a pilot flying for the world-renowned Blade Display Team sees her display the aircraft across the country.

The Blades, Sywell Aerodrome

Ms Murphy added: "After I left the RAF, I was keen to continue flying but wasn't too sure what my next opportunity would be.

"I was married and had a young baby when I found out that The Blades Team was looking for a pilot. I wanted to do something that was both professionally and personally challenging and I wanted to feel like I was a part of something that was worthwhile and rewarding.

"A year on since I joined the team and I love the job, and I get to give people once-in-a-lifetime flying experiences as part of the team’s 'Unique Experience Days' which is equally rewarding for me."

The Blades display team - made up of former Red Arrow pilots - is renowned for 'cutting-edge' aerobatics.

The Blades have more than 30,000 flying hours across a range of aircraft and have flown more than 4,000 displays making them some of the most experienced display pilots in the country.

Eleanor Lodge, a trials pilot for 2Excel Aviation Ltd, was also on hand to give an insight into her RAF days which saw her fly Chinook helicopters.

She said: "It’s so important to encourage a younger generation of female pilots, in particular as many young girls may not be aware of certain opportunities or that they can do the jobs perceived to be just for men."

Thirteen-year-old Wellingborough Air cadet Sophie Allard said: ‘‘I love flying and aerobatics in particular so this evening was great for me to talk to some amazing pilots who gave me good advice for the future. I’ve had my eyes opened that I can be a pilot too."