A former teacher is set to become the first ever female pilot to fly in the Royal Navy ‘Black Cats ‘ helicopter display team.
Lt Becky Frater, 36, who serves at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, is currently the only female pilot in the Maritime Lynx helicopter fleet.
She has now been selected as the leader of a two-person Black Cats display team, which is the Royal Navy equivalent of the Red Arrows.
The Black Cats, which formed in 2002, perform incredible manoeuvres and stunts in Lynx helicopters at events and shows across Britain.
Becky, who lives with her husband in Castle Cary, Somerset, admitted she gets a ”bit of banter” from male pilots and describes her new role as ”an honour”.
She said: ”You get a bit of banter of course but I’ve never really noticed any issue with what gender you are.
”The moves and manoeuvres involved in the performances are already known to us through our training and the challenge lies in putting them to a different use.
”It’s a whole new skill set and one of the most important things is to be safe. Lynx helicopters are very agile and the Black Cats fan base is growing.
”We hope with the amount of shows we are attending that word will get out even more.
”It is an honour to be asked to represent the Royal Navy in such a unique public arena.”
Becky worked as a school teacher before she spoke to an armed forces recruitment officer and joined the Army in 1997.
She learned to fly at RAF Shawbury, Shrops., in 1998 and then spent five years on a front line tour, serving in warzones including Iraq.
She requested to return to Britain as a helicopter instructor before joining the Royal Navy and was invited to join the Black Cats display team last year.
Becky explained: ”I took a big risk in leaving a good job, but joining the armed forces is something I had always wanted to do.
”I used to be in the air cadets as a youngster and when the opportunity came along I thought I’d give it a go.
”I wanted to do something more exciting and challenging.
”I was quite anxious but from the moment I started at Sandhurst I thought it was the best decision I ever made, the whole thing exceeded my expectations.”
Becky will be performing with the Black Cats from May to October this year.