An RAF pilot has become the first in the world to reach 1,000 flying hours on the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Antony Parkinson landed his jet at RAF Coningsby after a 90 minute training flight to clock up the 1001st hour.
Parky said: "It's a special thing to be the first in the world. And that's a historic milestone, not just for me, but for the Typhoon.
"It's taken 5 years of flying to reach 1000 hours and it's a privilege to be the first pilot to get it."
Antony 'Parky' Parkinson, 44, joined the RAF in 1983, aged just 18. In the last 25 years he has had an amazing flying career, in which he admits he has been very lucky: "This is my fourth 1,000 hour badge. I had 1,000 on the Phantom, then with the Tornado F3 before joining the Red Arrows, and completing 1,000 hours in the Hawk."
He came straight from the Red Arrows to the Typhoon, and has also, for the last 3 years, flown the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
"I've been so lucky. The Reds was probably the ultimate job - to loop and roll with 9 aircraft is very different. Some things are the same though, whether I'm air to air refuelling in the Typhoon, or in the Spitfire on the wing of the Lancaster - I will visually, manually fly the aircraft - the raw flying skills are the same to fly the Spitfire, to be a Red Arrow or to fly Typhoon. I probably have the best job in the world at the moment, flying the combination of Typhoon and Spitfire." Parky follows in the footsteps of his Grandfather, who flew with the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War and trained other pilots after the birth of the RAF in 1918.
Parky's 'day job' is as an instructor with the Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Coningsby, teaching pilots to fly the Typhoon. He also takes his turn as one of the pilots who maintain the Station's Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) role.
The Typhoon FGR Mk 4 provides the RAF with a highly capable and extremely agile multi-role combat aircraft.
The pilot can carry out many functions by voice command or through a hands-on stick and throttle system.
The cockpit is fully compatible with night-vision goggles.
"Not only have I probably flown with every one of the 100 plus typhoon pilots in the RAF, but I've seen the very early version of the jet, and seen the capability of the aircraft rapidly increase in the 5 years that I've been flying. It has been very interesting and exciting seeing the aircraft become a truly multi role platform. The raw performance of Typhoon is phenomenal, and technology has moved on so much since the Spitfire, we can go to 55,000 feet, and pull plus 9 G, they are both actually a joy to fly, although the Spitfire is way more difficult to land."
So what is the next challenge for such an experienced pilot?: "The first pilot to get 1000 hours will always be me, and I just feel very proud to have done it, to achieve that milestone. For now, I am thrilled to be with Typhoon and teaching the next generation of pilots."
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