RAF pilot Jonathan's 'incredible year'
PUBLISHED: 12:28 31 October 2015
The parents of one of Britain's 'ultimate pilots' have seen their son's incredible year documented as part of a BBC Two series, writes Clarissa Place.
Camera crews have followed the progress of Flight Lieutenant Jonathan Dowen over the last eight months as he prepared for his role as the RAF Typhoon display pilot for the 2015 season.
The 29-year-old was chosen after a tough selection process to pilot the multi-role combat aircraft to perform at air shows up and down the country.
The Typhoon FGR4 is powered by two Eurojet EJ200 engines which can reach a top speed of 1,320mph.
His parents, Sue and Paul Dowen, of Harcombe, near Sidmouth, recalled their son’s fascination with planes began when the family lived in Spain and would frequently fly to the UK.
Sue said: “He always wanted to fly since he was very small. He always had a fascination ever since he could remember, really.
“It’s so pleasing to see him succeed at something he’s always wanted to do, something he is passionate about, and excels at it.”
Paul, a member of Sid Valley Rotary Club, said: “He’s reached the peak. It’s exciting for him, he has had a superb year. He really enjoyed meeting the public and mixing with the public and meeting the youngsters who are really enthusiastic about flying themselves - that’s given him a buzz.”
Jonathan joined Honiton Air Training Corps (ATC) when he was 13.
The inspiring pilot was offered a sixth form scholarship by the RAF after completing his A-levels at Colyton Grammar School. Following his officer training, he continued to move up the ranks securing the position as the display pilot in October last year.
The father-of-two prepared his display in a simulator before taking to the skies to execute it before the start season began in May.
Sue said: “The first time we saw his display, his boss was standing with us and talked us through what he was doing as he was about to go into each manoeuvre.
“That was very interesting to hear what he was doing with the plane, how much G-Force and it was reassuring as well because that was the first time I had actually seen him fly the Typhoon.
“So to suddenly see him do the display it was a mixture of trepidation and fear and pride and just sheer amazement that he was doing what was he was doing.”
The couple said going behind the scenes and meeting support staff reassured them in the wake of the Shoreham air disaster.
Sue said: “We have always had faith in him and the support team. It’s such a professional operation and that’s very reassuring, so between having faith in what he’s doing and the support that he has got, you don’t really worry.”
Jonny, who lives near Lincoln with his fiancée Vanessa and two children, Violet and Theo, will be working with the Sid Valley Rotary Club on a number of events across the year.
Britain’s Ultimate Pilots: Inside The RAF will air its final episode on Sunday (November 1) at 9pm.