The 2019 RAF Tutor display team are ready to thrill the crowds at air shows across the United Kingdom this summer after passing their public display authorisation. Travelling to RAF Wittering near Peterborough Kurt Fairhurst and Paul Atkin caught up with the team to chat all things Tutor.

The Grob G115E or simply the tutor as it’s known in the Royal Air Force is a single engine prop trainer aircraft with a cruise speed of 143 mph and a crew of two it is used as a elementary flying trainer for the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Army Air Corps and the University Air Squadrons and is based at a number of airfields around the United Kingdom but primarily at RAF Cranwell and RAF Wittering

Chatting to the 2019 display pilot Flight Lieutenant Neil Owczarkowski he describes the tutor as a very pleasant aircraft to fly and is perfectly suited to its role as an elementary flight training aircraft adding that displaying the aircraft is all about energy management with continual inputs to make sure the aircraft never stays straight and level as this would result in the loss of vital speed for the next manoeuvre which is made harder by the fact the Tutor does not roll very effectively, on the subject of performance this year’s display aircraft G-BYXM has 5 or so knots of extra power than the other aircraft on the squadron which is a huge advantage when displays in an aircraft such as the Tutor.

Watch our interview with Flight Lieutenant Neil Owczarkowski below 

Neil told us his biggest challenge was transition from flying aerobatics at the standard 3,000ft to the display height of 500ft and how looping the aircraft at such a low altitude was a challenge at first but become normal the more he practiced. The transit’s to and from air show’s around the country is going to be the most challenging part Neil said as the Tutor can only fly in certain weather conditions. Display flying is something Neil has wanted to do for a number and when given the opportunity to display the tutor he jumped at the chance, Training started in October 2018 designing and flying the display working with former Tutor display pilot Andy Tagg the 2019 display began to take shape, Neil has designed this year’s display to be more dynamic with a constant flow between manoeuvres, he explained to us how the entire display hinges on the very first maneuver as he flies directly down display center pulling up in front of the crowd timing is everything in this move as he has to judge his distance from the crowd just right, the display then flows from maneuver to maneuver before it culminates with a low pass down the runway giving a great photo opportunity to the crowd.  

At the time of speaking to the team they had already been awarded their 2019 public display authorisation describing how this was achieved Neil told us that he had to conduct his display at a number of different heights starting at 3,000ft before dropping down to 1,500ft, 1,000ft and eventually display height of 500ft with a single low pass of 100ft to achieve PDA Neil had to fly 6 full displays and 2 flat displays at each of the heights having been assessed before being allowed to bring the display down to the next height. 

With the majority of 2019 shows over the sea a practice sortie was planned at Holbeach bombing range where a full show rehearsal would be undertaken this would include a transit flight to the show site, a hold and full practice display it is important that the display is practiced over water giving pilot Flight Lieutenant Neil Owczarkowski vital information on how the aircraft handles over the turbulent sea, it also gives Neil the chance to wear a life jacket well preforming the display something he would not normally do.


2019 Display Pilot – Flight Lieutenant Neil Owczarkowski

Joining the team for the 2019 display season Neil Owczarkowski has served in the Royal Air Force since 1997 Andy has flown over 4,600 hours on 7 aircraft types he was posted to 120 Squadron where he operated the Nimrod MR2 over both Iraq and Afghanistan as part of Op TELIC and Op HERRICK.  He was also involved in a number of exercises and operations worldwide. In 2007 Neil was posted to Royal Air Force Cranwell where he trained to become a Qualified Flying Instructor on the Tutor before later joining 115(R) Squadron in 2010. Having never been a display pilot the Tutor display is Neil’s first taste of the airshow world.

Display Manager – Flying Officer Nick Humphreys

Returning to the team for a second season after becoming display manager in 2018 Nick is now in his final year with the tutor display before he progresses onto flight training where he eventually hopes to join the multi engine fleet as a pilot. As the display manager it is Nick’s job to ensure everything is in place before each display but many months before the season starts he has to decide where the Tutor will be displaying throughout the season he also acts as the team’s media adviser.

Team Engineer – Chris Armstrong

Chris is employed by Babcock aviation and has been chosen as this year’s team engineer after responding to a call from Babcock requesting a volunteer engineer to join the team this summer having previously done this job in 2017 and 2018 he returns for a third time in 2019. His role this year will include arranging all necessary logistics for the team when they arrive at a display location, Arrange for the aircraft to be refueled and also transport the team’s equipment around each display site as well as making sure the aircraft is mechanically safe to fly and fixing any issues the aircraft may have.

2019 Display Dates

25th-26th May – Duxford Airshow

9th June – RAF Cosford Airshow

15th-16th June – Dunsfold

22nd-23rd June – Weston

29th June – NAFD Salisbury

6th-7th July – Wales Airshow

19th-21st July –  RIAT

27th28th July – Sunderland

27th July – East Fortune

17th-18th July – Eastbourne

30th August – 1st September – Portrush

7th – 8th September – Southport