Meet the Team
The team is drawn from a variety of serving and ex-serving RAF personnel, all bringing their unique blend of experience to the expedition.
Sqn Ldr Chris Pote
Team Leader - UK to New Zealand
Keen on a career in aviation from an early age, Chris studied maths, physics and chemistry A-levels at West Buckland School and read Aeronautical Engineering at Cranfield University. He joined the RAF in 1996 and his first flying tour was as a Qualified Flying Instructor on the Tucano, teaching the Basic Fast Jet Training course. Six further flying tours split between the Tornado GR4 and instruction on the Tucano followed. Chris has always drawn inspiration from the pioneering expeditions flown by aviators in the 1920s and 1930s and has long held an ambition to fly a light aircraft to New Zealand.
“I’m passionate about encouraging young people to study STEM subjects, sometimes seen as difficult and boring, in order to open up the exciting careers available in engineering and aviation.”
Advisor and Test Pilot
David served as a fast jet pilot for the RAF and the RN. With the RAF he qualified as a test pilot and was heavily involved with developing weapons for the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan helping to improve weapon accuracy and reduce collateral damage. In the Royal Navy he flew missile and aircraft attack profiles against our warships to help train our world-leading warfare teams on board the latest warships. In addition to exciting and challenging flying roles in our military, David also has experience as an airline pilot and in the corporate jet world.
'Knowledge of STEM subjects has been vital during my career. A deep interest in Engineering led me to apply for the Empire Test Pilots’ School and a passion for the sciences serves me well in my new role flying the Twin Otter around Antarctica in support of world-leading climatology and geo-physics experiments for the British Antarctic Survey. '
British Airways pilot, ex Tornado pilot – Crete to Minhad, UAE
Joe’s early interest in aviation was born, as for many, during multiple visits to the Cranfield airshows of the early 90’s. A decision to take up a career in aviation shortly followed (simple when you are aged approx 10). The scouts were swapped for the Air Cadets and the military route became the focus. 3 attempts and a lot of preparation later, Joe was awarded with a University Bursary from the Royal Air Force. The deal was sealed with the completion of his Product Design and Manufacture degree from Loughborough University and a place on Initial Officer Training in 2003 followed. Joe was streamed through training to Fast Jets and eventually operated the Tornado GR4 for front line duty. After a tour on the front-line Joe took up the role of QFI teaching on the Tucano as part of Basic Fast Jet Training. 5 pleasurable years passed in North Yorkshire before the opportunity to pursue a career in Civil Aviation was presented. Joe now operates the Airbus A320 series from London Heathrow, but retains the draw to the simpler aspects of aviation. Joe believes passionately in the value of STEM subjects in all aspects of modern life, not just his everyday role and intends to pass this on to his daughters as they grow up.
Wing Commander Kev Gatland
Tornado navigator – Minhad to Chang Mai, Thailand
Kevin has always been passionate about aviation and joined the Royal Air Force in 2000 as a Navigator shortly after having achieved his Private Pilots Licence. Progressing through flying training, he since has flown over 2000 hours on the Tornado GR4 spanning 5 operational front-line tours. He is innately adventurous and being able to combine world-wide travel and aviation, this flight represents a pinnacle of a challenge to complete whilst celebrating the RAF’s 100th year and acknowledging the essential expertise STEM brings to this environment.
Officer Cadet Abby McGill
Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron – Darwin to New Zealand
Keen to explore a role in the RAF, Abby joined Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron (YUAS) in 2015. After three enjoyable years Abby is set to graduate from the University of Leeds with a BSc in Economics. During this period, YUAS and the wider RAF has provided countless opportunities for travel and adventurous training, as well as a solid foundation to flying on the Grob Tutor. Abby is pursuing an application to the RAF and hopes to join in the near future.
“This flight provides a fantastic opportunity to share the celebrations of 100 years of the RAF with countries across the world, and to commemorate the significance of previous operations in those locations. In today’s society there is still a significant under-representation of females in STEM related roles. I encourage everyone to explore STEM subjects as they provide application and relevance to many fields and further opportunities.”
Meteorologist – UK to Crete
Rachel has always had an interest in adventure, the elements and science which led her to reading a BSc in Geography at the University of St Andrews and then an MSc in Disaster Management and Sustainable Development at Northumbria University. Whilst at university Rachel was part of Tayforth University Officers’ Training Corps where there were plenty of opportunities for adventure training and exploration overseas. Once graduated Rachel joined the Met Office where she studied to become an Operational Meteorologist progressing in the defence aviation stream and currently works in this role at RAF Linton-on-Ouse. Postings in the coming year will take her overseas to the Falklands and Cyprus in support of RAF and she is currently applying to become an RAF reservist in the Mobile Meteorological Unit.
‘Scientific understanding and technology in the field of meteorology have come a long way in the last 100 years but met has always been an important part of RAF operations so it’s a privilege to be part of this event. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do as a career when I left school but studying STEM subjects stood me in good stead at university and beyond. Being an Operational Meteorologist wasn’t a career I had ever even heard of before but because I had studied maths and physics it was a career path open to me. I am passionate about encouraging people to study STEM subjects in schools, especially women who are often underrepresented in these fields. STEM subjects really can open up some hugely interesting career opportunities’
Squadron Leader Emma Landy
Sea King pilot – Chang Mai, Thailand to Darwin, Australia