A Warton-based test pilot has achieved a rare feat of notching up 5,000 hours in the air flying military jets.
Nat Makepeace, who works at BAE Systems in the village, achieved this prestigious milestone flying Typhoon development aircraft ZJ699 on a test flight over the Aberporth range in Wales.
Due to the demands of the job, only a handful of pilots at Warton Aerodrome have ever achieved this feat and bosses at the firm say it is unlikely to ever be repeated again.
Nat said: “It’s quite unusual these days for a pilot to get the opportunity to achieve this amount of flying in military jets, so I feel very privileged to have clocked up this many hours.
“My first flight out of Blackpool Airport in 1985 was as a result of winning an air cadet scholarship programme and I’ve never looked back.
“During this year our work to develop the Typhoon jet’s capability has led to me flying more hours than usual –around 25 a month – which has helped me get to this point”.
Nat was brought up in Yorkshire and was educated at Southampton University, where he read Aeronautics and Astronautics. During flying training at RAF Cranwell, Valley and Chivenor, Nat was honoured with a number of awards including best overall student.
Posted initially as a Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI), he then moved on to fly Tornado jets on worldwide deployments. Having been selected for training as a test pilot, Nat attended the Empire Test Pilot’s School at Boscombe Down and was subsequently posted to the Fast Jet Test Squadron (also based at Boscombe Down) as the Tornado and Jaguar Project Test Pilot.
On promotion to Squadron Leader, Nat was posted to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where he was a test pilot for the United States Air Force.
Upon retirement from the Royal Air Force, Nat joined BAE Systems to take up his current role.