James McMillan, otherwise known as ‘McZ’, has joined the Blades Aerobatic Team as Blade 2. As an ex Red Arrows pilot, and more recently a Flight Commander at RAF Coningsby on the Typhoon, we are delighted to be welcoming James. He is certainly bringing years of valuable flying experience to the team.
Despite being born here in the UK, his family moved to the sub-tropical environs of the Bay of Islands in New Zealand when he was ten years old. It was whilst living in New Zealand that James’ passion for fast-jets resulted in him being selected for the Royal New Zealand Air Force during his final year at school. His flying career was underway, flying the Aermacchi MB339 and becoming the youngest qualified fast-jet pilot in the RNZAF at the age of 20.
In 2002 James returned to the UK, due to the RNZAF disbanding the fast-jet programme. He accepted an offer from the RAF and completed his training on the Hawk T1, where he was selected to be a first tour flying instructor teaching advanced jet training to students at RAF Valley. James went on to complete his Tactical Weapons Course in 2006, flying the Harrier where he served with 1(F) Sqn at RAF Cottesmore. During this time, he flew operationally in Afghanistan directly supporting UK and coalition troops on the ground. In 2011, James was selected to fly for The Red Arrows, and in 2014 he was Synchro Leader. He is leaving the RAF and joining the Blades in our 13th display season with over 3000 flying hours.
Blade 1, Andy Evans comments: “We are so pleased that McZ agreed to join the Blades Team, bringing so much flying experience with him. He has started his training with me in the Extra 300, and is already getting to grips with the agility of such a dynamic aircraft.”
James says: “Having had an incredible flying career already, I am thrilled to be joining the Blades Aerobatic Team in the Blade 2 position. The time flying formation aerobatics with the Red Arrows, and helping to coach and supervise the Typhoon display pilot in 2016 and 2017, has certainly prepared me for flying for such a dynamic aerobatic team. I’m looking forward to the 2018 season, despite the challenges of learning to fly the Extra 300 and the manoeuvres for the display.”
When he is not flying, James enjoys spending his time on the water kitesurfing/sailing/wakeboarding etc., or he can be found heading to the Lake District with his partner Jennie enjoying the great outdoors.