Oxford UK 24th July 1997, 20:30 Zulu.
An F/A-18(T) dual-seater Hornet of No. VI Sqn OCU, Virtual Royal Air Force, took off from a classified airbase in Southern England, flown by Sqn Leader "Mad Dan" Eccles, with a trainee pilot in the forward seat, Rachel 'Deadeye' Grant. At nautical miles three from the runway and five hundred feet agl, travelling at 325 kias Sqn Ldr Eccles handed over the controls to Cadet Grant. She immediately showed a flair for aerobatics and a heretofore unsuspected instinct for combat by putting the Hornet into a straight roll and attempting to fire the cannon. The weapons were in safe mode and the public was not placed at risk. After 6 rolls of the aeroplane (without losing significant altitude) Sqn Ldr Eccles took control of the aircraft. The rest of the circuit, approach and landing passed without further incident, apart from unexpected applications of the airbrake, switching map modes and lowering of the landing gear. These being the only controls she could reach.
Cadet Grant will be four months old on 1st August.