Massive Formation Flying for the Queen and Embracing Failure as the True Route to Success
In early 2012, I was flying with a good friend of mine when I made a mistake that very almost killed us both. I was an accomplished jet pilot, as was my buddy, but something happened that was totally unexpected and almost resulted in the loss of, not one, but two of the RAF's very new and expensive aircraft and four highly experienced pilots.We were practising for a display that would be conducted in front of the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee Flypast. We were being led by an experienced display flight leader who had recently arrived at RAF Valley and was an ex-Red Arrow. His task - getting 27 Hawk pilots from the RAF and the RN, across four squadrons, to perform as a huge formation that would form the letters 'EIIR'. The practises were hard and the learning new. It was obvious that in order to be successful in front of the Queen, we were all going to have to embrace failure as a learning tool and many times over.It was going to be hard work and in essence, to create success in front of the Queen, this work-up was going to have to suck.Most people, and especially pilots, concentrate too much on the 'what ifs' in life. What if I'm not good enough? What if I fail? What if they laugh at me?Pilots all fear failure. For them, failure is a constant as everyday they are routinely being assessed by their peers. In fact, as most pilots know, to ultimately fail can result in their death or worse, that of one of their buddies. But pilots are still able to climb into the cockpit, everyday, even though they have a fear of failure. You see failure comes in many different forms and for many different people. I know people that cannot and will not speak in front of a crowd, even if they know them really well - public speaking is a human's number one fear, our second biggest fear is death!

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