Stefan Doblhammer was destined for this, having been passionate about flying since his early childhood and in particular about fast jet-powered fighter aircraft. Shortly after completing his military service, the Upper Austrian began to train as a military pilot – a career which he still pursues with passion today. Over the years, Doblhammer has flown military aircraft from turboprop trainer aircraft to supersonic jets – and he has acquired some exceptional skills which he can now apply as a pilot with the Flying Bulls: in the cockpit of the ultra-fast Alpha Jets.
1. DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST FLIGHT AS A PILOT?
SD: Very well. I was a student pilot in a C152. The flight instructor took over the controls and demonstrated how to make houses big and small. After the flight, I needed a while to make up my mind whether to continue.
2. HOW MANY FLIGHT HOURS DO YOU HAVE UNDER YOUR BELT?
SD: Approximately 1800h on jet-propelled fighter aircraft and about 300h on prop and turboprop.
3. F-22 OR CORSAIR? AIRBUS 380 OR B-25?
SD: In terms of flying, the Corsair and B-25 are definitely more challenging, but to experience the performance of an F-22 or to fly the massive A380, would be just as great an experience - in short, all four at best.
4. IF YOU WERE ALLOWED THE AIRCRAFT OF YOUR CHOICE, WHICH WOULD YOU LIKE TO FLY AT LEAST ONCE, AND WHY?
SD: The list is endless - each aircraft has its charms and individual challenges. But it has to be fast.
5. GIVEN THE AGE OF THE MACHINE, HAVEYOU EVER EXPERIENCED MOMENTS OF FEAR BEFORE BOARDING OR DURING A FLIGHT?
SD: I have every confidence in our technology and maintenance.
6. WHAT WAS THE MOST TURBULENT FLIGHT IN YOUR LIFE?
SD: It was not during the flight itself. But once after performing an air combat manoeuvre in the military, I subsequently discovered I had suffered a cervical spine injury during high g-force. It was the most turbulent period in my life as a pilot. I needed nine months therapy and rehabilitation, which included a flight ban.