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.
She offers an insight into this elite world, supported by anecdotes about her time on the front line. 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. 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 at Birmingham University.
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.
Mandy is also focused on providing women with support and inspiration in the form of her remarkable story. It is a story which started with dreaming about being a fast jet pilot at the age of 13 and culminated in her leading an entirely male-dominated Front Line Tornado Squadron on operations.
It is with frankness and great humour that Mandy talks about the strategies she employed to succeed in such a demanding environment. She has boundless energy, an overriding purpose of the end goal and a passionate belief that with hard work and self-belief anyone can achieve their ambitions.