Mandy Hickson was the only female pilot on her Front Line Tornado Squadron, flying multimillion pound fast jets for the Royal Air Force. She has operated in hostile environments, including patrolling the ‘No Fly’ zone over Iraq. Carrying the latest weaponry she and her unit were ready to drop ordnance on any target in support of operations.
Her route to the top was tumultuous in every sense – awarded an RAF flying scholarship at 17, long before she even passed her driving test, she went on to win aerobatic competitions whilst still a student. However, despite her prowess in the skies, she failed the computer-based tests, taken by all potential RAF pilots. Undeterred, her self-belief and dogged determination persuaded the RAF to take her on as a test case, thereby overcoming seemingly insurmountable hurdles.
Now a civilian, Mandy draws on her experiences to train and inspire others, covering the core areas of human factors; decision making, communication, leadership, behaviour, workload, conflict, fatigue and stress management. Mandy relates her experiences of working within an elite team of fast jet operators to audiences with great clarity and humour, outlining how the same values apply within any environment. She demonstrates only too well the importance of remaining calm under pressure and leading, quite literally, from the front, in order to get the best from herself and her team.
Since leaving the RAF, Mandy Hickson continues her support for the services in the Volunteer Reserve (VR), through flying on the Air Experience Flight, passing on her experience and enjoyment of flying to Air Cadets. She is on the board of trustees at the Victory Services Club, London and is an ambassador for sport for Hampshire County Council. She also supports her local community as Chairwoman of her local Tennis Club.
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