Jim grew up hanging around Duxford with his father Carl, a long-time warbird pilot, and has always wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Jim learned to fly before he could drive, aged 18, and was taught again, but this time wearing a helmet, with the University of Wales Air Squadron. After university he studied for a Commercial Pilot’s Licence but this career was put on hold when, with typically last-minute timing, the RAF finally accepted him on the day his licence was issued. A whirlwind 20-year career followed, Jim becoming in turn: a Harrier fighter pilot in time for Gulf War 2; the lead Harrier test pilot; the UK’s chief test pilot instructor; the MOD’s F-35 test pilot; and the wing commander in charge of UK F-35 requirements.

Jim has flown just under 100 types and a century of front-line fighters: 1917 Bristol Fighter, Spitfire, Viggen, Jaguar, Harrier, Tornado, Gripen, Typhoon, F-15, F-16, F/A-18 and F-35. He was one of the first pilots to land an F-35 on a ship at night.

Jim has remained true to his “puddle-jumping” roots, owning a RV-3 kitplane, flying for The Yakovlevs formation aerobatic display team for over 12 years, flying vintage aircraft for the Shuttleworth Collection, and finally flying Spitfires with the Boultbee Flight Academy. Jim is also a UK and US flying instructor and a flight test instructor.

Since leaving the RAF Jim works as a freelance test pilot and flies part-time for a major UK airline. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a father of two.


BOULTBEE FLIGHT ACADEMY was established in 2010 and was the world's first Spitfire training school and approved Spitfire flight provider flying single seat and two seat spitfires. So if your question is:  Can I buy a flight in a Spitfire? Where can I fly in a Spitfire? or Where can I train to fly a Spitfire? the answer is that you can at Boultbee Flight Academy. The Academy is the world's authority on Spitfire flying. We offer Spitfire experience flights to non-pilots and Spitfire training to pilots. All of our two seat Spitfire flights are incredible experiences whether you are a pilot or not. A two seater Spitfire flight really is everything you will hope it to be and more. Flying in a Spitfire is an experience you won't forget. So why not come and fly with us? CLICK HERE for more information.

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Photography:  John Dibbs, Richard Paver, Andy Annable, Jon Le Ray, Darren Harbar

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