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Willy Hackett

Spitfire Pilot & Instructor

Willy Hackett

Willy became fascinated by aviation at the age of four after seeing a Lightning fly over while on the beach in West Wales. He was captivated from there on.


He began flying at the age of 11 with a local gliding club. He was so little he needed his mother's cast iron skillet for ballast. He went solo on his 16th birthday and an RAF flying scholarship earned him a PPL soon after. He left University to join the RAF as soon as he was old enough and after completing basic training on the Jet Provost at RAF Cranwell he progressed to the Hawk at RAF Valley. He then completed the Tornado F3 conversion at RAF Coningsby and from there he joined 43 (F) Sqn at RAF Leuchars before deploying to Gulf War 1 as one of the youngest NATO pilots to take part. After three tours on the F3, including two years as the RAF display pilot, Willy embarked on an exchange with the Royal Navy flying Sea Harriers. Here he enjoyed a 6 month cruise on board HMS Illustrious visiting the Gulf and Sierra Leone.


The Empire Test Pilot School came next followed by stints as a test pilot for Eurofighter Typhoon and F35 Joint Strike Fighter.


In his personal flying Willy is a Full Category gliding instructor and a member of the Yakovlevs display team. He is a Shuttleworth Collection pilot displaying anything from a Tiger Moth to a Hawker Hind and German Storch. He also instructs on and displays the Folland Gnat. He received an MBE for services to aviation from Her Majesty the Queen in 1999.


Willy is married to Debb and they have two young daughters.

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