TV’s Fighter Pilot follows the RAF’s top guns as they train to fly Marham F-35 jets

Will Danners be selected to fly the brand new F-35 Lightning jet? Picture: Blakeway Productions

Will Danners be selected to fly the brand new F-35 Lightning jet? Picture: Blakeway Productions - Credit: Archant

With footage shot at the RAF's academy in North Wales and at the F-35 base in South Carolina, USA, ITV series Fighter Pilot - The Real Top Gun has followed a trio of pilots training to fly the £100m Lightning jet. In its final episode, they will find out which of them has qualified to fly the jet.

Will Danners be selected to fly the brand new F-35 Lightning jet? Picture: Blakeway Productions

Will Danners be selected to fly the brand new F-35 Lightning jet? Picture: Blakeway Productions - Credit: Archant

It features Danielle, who is aiming to become one of only nine British female frontline pilots, former windsurfing instructor Sedge, and young dad Andy.

The school's only female student, Danners, has an injury which could threaten her participation in the course, after injuring her back playing squash. She says: "If it's a more long term injury it could put me back on the course, so it could delay my graduation. And worst case it could be potentially career limiting, which is obviously something that I'm quite keen to avoid."

Young dad Andy and former windsurf instructor Sedge face the most complex flight of their lives - a full mission, which is their final hurdle to becoming fighter pilots by graduating from RAF Valley.

Andy says: "Finishing Valley is a massive milestone for everybody, it will be a massive achievement something that we've been working to for years and years."

Will Danners be selected to fly the brand new F-35 Lightning jet? Picture: Blakeway Productions

Will Danners be selected to fly the brand new F-35 Lightning jet? Picture: Blakeway Productions - Credit: Archant


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After his flight, Andy is debriefed by instructor Paul, who tells him he needs to be careful to be aware of the airspace around him - otherwise the consequences could be extreme.

In Sedge's final test, he is paired up as lead pilot alongside fellow student Kieran. But when Kieran wrongly identifies a friendly aircraft as hostile, he puts the mission and their careers at risk.

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In South Carolina, the British F-35 Lightning crew establish whether they are frontline ready with the new aircraft.

Rewinding to last June, squadron boss Butch and other pilots are due to take the UK's first four jets 4,000 miles to the waiting crowds and media at their new home at Marham.

Will Danners be selected to fly the brand new F-35 Lightning jet? Picture: Blakeway Productions

Will Danners be selected to fly the brand new F-35 Lightning jet? Picture: Blakeway Productions - Credit: Archant

He says the pilots face a gruelling eight and a half hours at the helm: "To fly for that long in a fighter jet is tiring on its own, you're sitting in a single position on a hard seat, that is not designed for comfort, like it would be on an airliner."

Fighter Pilot - The Real Top Gun is screened on ITV on Tuesday, September 3 (9pm).

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