Mike Ling: The next step in my career

5th March 2019

This week Mike Ling, the longest ever serving RAF Red Arrow joins us to start his new career as a Blades Aerobatic Pilot. Many of you will know ‘Lingy’ from his years of commentating as Red 10, and from his long and rich history in the RAF. He swaps his red flying suit for a blue one to become our newest member, and here’s what he has to say about his career to date!

Have you always wanted to be a pilot?

Always. My first memory of wanting to fly was when I was 3 years old, watching the RAF Red Arrows fly over my head at the Biggin Hill airshow in May 1982!

What would you have been if not?

I really don’t know. It’s never been on my radar to have a career in anything else, but I guess it would have to be something in motor racing.  

What made you take the RAF route?

I wanted to get flying as soon as possible after leaving school, and the thrill of flying fast jets was a no brainer.

What has been the most challenging part of your career to date? And what have you learnt from it?

When I finished my A levels, I was told by the careers office that I would never be a pilot. I’d even signed up for the Army before getting a second opinion, and now after 10 years in the Red Arrows, I’d like to think I’ve proved them wrong!

What has been your biggest achievement to date in your career?

Definitely being awarded Member of Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ (MBE) in the 2017 New Year’s honours list. I think it encompasses everything I’ve done and recognises the work I did during my time in the Red Arrows.

What are you most looking forward to in this next step in your career?

Interestingly, I’m really looking forward to working outside of the military and seeing flying from a different angle. The Blades also offers the unique experience of sharing flying with passengers, which I’m really excited about.

What is going to be the biggest challenge?

 I think transitioning from the RAF to the civilian world will be the biggest challenge, but the Blades’ military heritage is so strong, it still feels like a close-knit family which is what I’ve been used to my whole career.

What advice would you give any future aviators?

Jump at every opportunity you get; whether that’s being offered a passenger ride, or going for a lesson, you need to grab everything with both hands. Try and see aviation from every angle.

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