Air Pilots Cobham Lecture, Royal Aeronautical Society

Wednesday 26th April 2017

The Air Pilots host lectures twice a year at the Royal Aeronautical Society (off Hyde Park) and so this was my second and therefore last. Arriving in time for a quick cup of tea and a natter with various other Masters, we were asked to take our seats in the surprisingly large lecture theatre towards the back of the building which is a bit of a ‘tardis’ in that the frontage is quite modest compared to the suites of rooms within. Having settled down, the newly-installed Master, Captain Chris Spurrier introduced the guest speaker, Tristan Crawford, the Founder and CEO of Dart Jet. He was about my age and has been turning out competent technical profiles for fighter jets since the age of 12. To distil his 45 minute lecture to a puff of wind is hard, but in essence it was about his ‘light bulb’ moment when he realised that the gulf between trainer jets and fully fledged fighters need not be there and, at the same time, considerable savings could be made with his system. Basically the essential shells of both ‘planes can be the same, only different wings and engine sizes need be added to convert a harmless trainer into a ruthless fighter, but as the controls and components would all be the same, re-training pilots wouldn’t be necessary and vast savings could be achieved with the inter-changeable parts. It sounded plausible, sensible and ingenious.. which is why the RAF have just extended their contract with the old Hawker system they’ve used for 30 years or more. Hopefully when that has run its course the govt will have a rethink and do the right thing. After the talk Tristan took questions for which there were more than time allowed for, and then we returned to the lower salon for wine and nibbles and where I was very pleased to see Peter, the IPM whom I’ve known all year, and meet Tristan for a proper chat and to wish him all the very best for his project. An interesting evening, thank you Air Pilots.