Mark 'Cutty' Cutmore has seen active service in the Balkans, been Squadron Executive Officer in the Red Arrows and acted as Special Advisor to the Royal Saudi Air Force Aerobatic Team. He is currently a member of The Blades (opens in a new window) .
How did you come to be involved in this documentary?
I was lucky enough to be chosen from the current crop of ex-Red Arrow pilots here at the Blades to take part in the programme alongside ex-Red Arrows leader Andy Offer. No idea why, but probably because I looked like cannon fodder!
Did you have an interest in any aspects of the history of aviation before this?
As a pilot I think I've always had an admiration and interest in those involved in the earliest days of powered flight, but to find out so much about this period of aviation, both academically and practically was an eye opener and a great privilege.
Have you taken anything from the experience of flying these early planes and learning about their pilots into your own
I think flying the early aircraft reminds you that you are in fact in an environment that demands respect - it's easy to forget this in modern aircraft, where you are almost cocooned from reality in the cockpit, but there is no hiding from it in an open-cockpit aircraft where you are fully exposed to the elements.
What was the highlight for you?
Undoubtedly the highlight for me was when Andy and I engaged in a dogfight wielding pistols - and seeing Andy's face grinning maniacally as we flashed past each other. It's a shame this wasn't shown in the finished film, as I think I won this particular engagement!
Is there a single incident from your whole flying career that you remember as the most intense?
There have probably been many intense moments during my flying career, but, in particular, I remember my final trip on the Jaguar Conversion Unit. The culmination of three years training seemed to rest on the outcome of this one trip: pass and go to my first squadron, fail and it might have been back to the drawing board. Fortunately, I passed, which was a great feeling, and I have had an amazingly lucky career in aviation ever since.
After a day of tumbling through the sky at huge g-forces, how do you feel behind the wheel of a car?
To be perfectly honest, I don't fly my aircraft or drive my car to get excitement, so the drive home after a display is exactly that, the only way home and it's quite a mellow part of the day. I think people have an image that pilots, and especially display pilots, must be adrenaline junkies who relish danger, when actually we are pretty much the opposite. Although the Blades display is undoubtedly exciting to watch, for us it is a series of demanding manoeuvres that require 100% concentration and exact parameters every single time in order to look amazing but remain as safe as possible for all involved. It is a frantic 15 minutes and, generally, only after you have shut down after landing do you allow yourself to look back and enjoy what you have just done. Then it's off to the video debrief to see where you can improve for next time... followed by the relaxing drive home.