4th July 2019 – TUI Airways pilot Mike Bowden, who joined the airline last year, has returned to the Red Arrows this summer to perform in aerobatic displays for one last time. TUI Airways has released Mike from his flying duties to step in for ‘Red 3’, who was injured playing football ahead of the season.

    Mike, 38, joined the Royal Air Force in 2002 and undertook various flying duties including four seasons with the Red Arrows. He flew for the RAF for the final time in October 2018, and then joined TUI Airways as a First Officer.

    Without Mike stepping in as ‘Red 3’, the Red Arrows would have struggled to train a new pilot in time for its busy itinerary of impressive aerobatic displays. Luckily, Mike was still the perfect fit for the role and only required a few hours of training. This is the first time an airline has released a pilot to re-join the Red Arrows team.

    In his few months at TUI Mike has flown a Boeing 737 aircraft on a selection of short and mid-haul routes from TUI Airways’ Cardiff base, taking excited customers on their holidays. This summer Mike’s mission is very different, flying a BAE Systems Hawk T1 fast-jet across the world, including the Red Arrows’ biggest ever North American tour which gets underway in early August.

    Mike has been a high flyer since school, completing an RAF and Air League Flying Scholarship whilst in sixth form and earning his private pilot’s license at just 17 years old. Mike studied computing and mathematics at Cardiff University sponsored by the RAF and has spent the past 17 years travelling across the world to destinations such as China and the Middle East. Mike has recently bought a house in Llanishen, close to his TUI base at Cardiff Airport and from here he will continue his career flying TUI customers on holiday, once his final season with one of the world’s greatest aerobatic display teams is over.


    Dawn Wilson, Managing Director at TUI Airways, commented:

    “We are delighted that Mike could step in and complete the Red Arrows team for their 2019 season. The talent and skill of the Red Arrows is outstanding and we know their breath-taking displays are helping inspire the next generation of pilots. TUI Airways is lucky to have Mike as part of our flight crew team of 970 pilots and I know our team in Cardiff are looking forward to welcoming him back and hearing the stories of his summer adventures.”


    Squadron Leader Mike Bowden said:

    “Although it is an unexpected return to the Red Arrows, it is always a privilege to represent the United Kingdom at home and overseas with aerobatic shows that demonstrate the best of British.

    “However, whether flying TUI Airways’ customers on holiday or displaying in front of big crowds with the Red Arrows, I believe aviation is a shared, common language and the teamwork involved – both in the air and on the ground – can help inspire people of all ages and backgrounds.

    “I’m extremely grateful to all those colleagues at TUI Airways who have been so supportive and allowed my temporary return to the Red Arrows for the 2019 display season.”

    – ENDS –