Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 17:21 UK

First female pilot for Red Arrows

Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Moore
Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Moore joins the Red Arrows next year

The Red Arrows display team is to get its first woman pilot, the Royal Air Force has announced.

Flt Lt Kirsty Moore will join the team from 2010 until 2012, when it is likely she will fly over the London Olympics.

The 31-year-old pilot currently serves with a Tornado squadron based at RAF Marham in Norfolk.

The RAF said Red Arrow team members were picked from "some of the very finest fast-jet pilots", but up until now no woman had made the grade.

Every year about 30 fast-jet pilots apply to the Red Arrows, based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, but only the very best are successful.

Flight Lieutenant Moore is not the first woman to apply for a place, although she was the first to make the short list and now be selected to join.

Finest pilots

Successful applicants must have scored better than average marks in their flying career, have flown for a minimum of 1,500 hours and have completed at least one front line tour as a fast-jet pilot.

The RAF said applicants who meet the criteria are considered "purely on merit".

Flt Lt Ben Plank, 30, who is based at Cottesmore in Leicestershire, will also be joining the display team from next year.

But both he and Flight Lieutenant Moore will start training with the Red Arrows in September.

Team leader of the Red Arrows, Wing Cdr Jas Hawker, said: "The short list of candidates to join the Red Arrows represents some of the very finest fast-jet pilots in the Royal Air Force.

Red Arrows
The Red Arrows team is famous for its formation aerobatics

"Their skills, experience, dedication and enthusiasm are second to none. We are equally proud to be welcoming both pilots to the team and are looking forward to their arrival in September 2009."

It is likely Flight Lieutenant Moore will fly at events such as the British Formula 1 Grand Prix, Great North Run in Newcastle and, in her final year with the team, at the London Olympics.

After joining the RAF in 1998, Ms Moore, who is originally from Lincolnshire, trained new pilots on the Hawk aircraft at RAF Valley in North Wales.

Flight Lieutenant Plank, from Worcestershire, joined the RAF in 2000.

He has also served as an instructor at RAF Valley and is currently on an operational tour with a Harrier squadron.

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