Display Pilot's Last UK Hurrah
Published: 07 Sep 2017
A fighter ace is making his last display in the UK this weekend at Scampton's airshow. Cdt Tom 'Gizmo' De Moortel flies the Lockheed Martin F-16AM - known as the Viper amongst fighter pilots - for the Belgian Air Force and is in his final season of a three-year tour as the official demonstration pilot.
"I am honoured to display here at the home of the Red Arrows," he said on arrival for Thursday's display validation flight. Gizmo, a member of 31 Tiger Squadron at Kleine-Brogel joined the Air Force in 1996 and went on to fly C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. He transitioned to the F-16 in 2005 and has taken part in Belgian overseas operations over the last ten years. Before becoming a display pilot in 2015, he was the flight safety officer for the Kleine Brogel air base, home to two squadrons of F-16s.
His dynamic 15-minute display subjects his body to stresses of +9G to -3G while flying at speeds up to 600 knots. While the display is aerobatic, it does mimic manoeuvres that would be used in operations and highlights the capabilities of the F-16 - not bad for a jet designed over 40 years ago!