THE first trainee fast jet pilot to ‘solo’ on the brand-new Texan T1 trainer aircraft now in service with RAF Valley's 72 Squadron has spoken of the honour.

Lt Lewis Phillips RN has spoken of his pride after achieving an "an important milestone" for any aircraft he has ever flown and will fly in the future.

He said: "It certainly wasn’t lost on me that I was the first UK student to fly the RAF’s newest aircraft solo; this naturally culminated in some nerves before the flight.

"However, when you kit up and crew in, your mind switches to the task at hand and the sortie was an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding one.

"The fact that I was authorised by an Ascent Qualified Flying Instructor as a Royal Navy student on an RAF Squadron is a testament to the teamwork that has been put in here at 72 Sqn to make it possible.

"Having flown the Tutor for Royal Navy Flying Grading and the Prefect for Elementary Flying Training it felt like a natural progression rather than a leap.

"The main differences for me were getting used to all the kit - on-board oxygen generation, G-Suit, immersion suit - and the fact that it is a tandem cockpit.

"The synthetic training is beneficial in preparation for our sorties and they can make sure that valuable time airborne isn’t spent learning things like checks so you can concentrate more on developing airmanship and captaincy.

"Our main Flight Training Device (simulator) can certainly feel realistic and is a good supplement to training.

"I try to keep the next flight as a personal milestone to not get too far ahead of myself but I’m aware that the Basic Handling Test (BHT) and the Instrument Rating Test (IRT) are not too far around the corner.

"The immediate future holds gaining more confidence in handling the aircraft with aerobatics and Max Performance Manoeuvres.

"My first time at RAF Valley and the Isle of Anglesey was day one of starting the Texan Course. We were incredibly well received on the Station and we have made an effort to explore the local area when the weather has allowed!"

The Texan T1 is the second stage of fast jet flying training for the RAF and Royal Navy, following on from Elementary Flying Training (EFT).

Once Basic Flying Training (BFT) on the Texan T1 is complete, the trainees move on to Advanced Flying Training (AFT) on the Hawk T2, also at RAF Valley.

Following successful completion of Basic Flying Training on the Texan T1, trainees are awarded their flying badges or ‘wings’.

Training is delivered through the Military Flying Training System (MFTS), a programme established by the UK MOD and Ascent Flying Training Ltd to train all UK military aircrew across the three services.