- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies
The largest ever formation of Royal Air Force Typhoons have spelt out 100 in the skies above Buckingham Palace to mark the centenary of the service.
A total of 22 of the fighter jets took part in the flypast, forming into the numbers, which had served as a surprise for the public and royal family watching the spectacle.
Squadron Leader Mike Child said the arrangement of the aircraft took “months of planning”, with pilots also undertaking simulator training and multiple briefings.
Asked how hard it has been putting together the formation, he said: “It has been difficult because it is the biggest formation we have ever done as a Typhoon force.
“We have done nine ships – which are the diamond nine – which is a relatively basic formation, but it is actually making something that big.”
The 38-year-old said he came up with a lot of the shape of the formation in terms of references, and measured it all out and where everyone should be.
He revealed much of the practice has been taking place over the North Sea more than 120 miles out from land to avoid being spotted, and to give them more space.
“That formation is relatively big and unwieldy and trying to manoeuvre it is difficult, so doing it over land is harder,” Sqn Ldr Child said.
Five frontline Typhoon squadrons, plus one training unit, are involved in the formation – with eight jets and 150 personnel brought down from RAF Lossiemouth to RAF Coningsby for the flypast.
Set to fly in the back seat of one of the jets, asked how he feels to be involved, he said: “It is an overwhelming sense of pride… to be involved on the day – flying will be just amazing.”
With three weeks set aside for training ahead of the flypast, he said the Typhoon force is still delivering on operations around the world, and through Quick Reaction Alert.
“What we have done is reduce the training flying back in the UK, it is not that we are stopping it, we are just reduced it,” he said of managing training, formation practice and operations.
Asked what the Queen will make of the display, he said: “It is going to be quite a tight formation, I think hopefully she will be very impressed, it is going to be loud as well going down the Mall.”