Of a man and his machine

Of a man and his machine

This man and his machine are inseparable. Mats Thorbiornson, an experimental test pilot with Gripen, Sweden’s premiere range of fighter aircraft, is extremely confident and skilled. 

Mats, who was an aircraft technician with the Swedish Air Force, chose to write the test to be a pilot of Gripen after he was flattered by the power of the aircraft. He has not looked back since.

He has flown almost all available variants of  Gripen, yet he admits that he still hasn’t got enough of it.  Mats, who is at the ‘Aero India 2017’, took time off to chat with Nina C George about what got him hooked to the Gripen.

Why did you choose to be a pilot when you were an aircraft technician?
I was in the Air Force working as an aircraft technician when I got the opportunity to do the pilot test and managed to perform well, so I was selected as a pilot. Before flying the Gripen, I’ve flown the Viggen, another Swedish aircraft,and about 40 to 50 different kinds of aircraft from the US, Russia and France, before I settled down for Gripen.

What do you like about the Gripen?
There are different versions of it. There are specific versions for air to air and air to ground operations. Gripen is a multirole aircraft and is designed to be a multirole fighter aircraft.

Could you elaborate?  
This aircraft is the backbone of a number of air force systems in the world — the Swedish Air Force to start with. It’s a fighter plane that can do many different things. You can even switch from one type of mission to another during flights. It’s very safe.

If you want to switch missions, you just have to push a couple of buttons and every thing is out there for you. The aircraft will do exactly what you tell it to do. It is very agile but still very smooth.

How does it feel to do manoeuvres in a Gripen?
One feels very safe when doing manoeuvres in a Gripen. You feel absolutely secure when you are flying in low altitude, negotiating a bad weather or while involved in a dangerous mission because you are in total control of the aircraft. The technicians of Gripen are also working on providing the pilot with the best possible view of the surroundings which help spot the enemy plane faster.

This man and his machine are inseparable. Mats Thorbiornson, an experimental test pilot with Gripen, Sweden’s premiere range of fighter aircraft, is extremely confident and skilled. 

Mats, who was an aircraft technician with the Swedish Air Force, chose to write the test to be a pilot of Gripen after he was flattered by the power of the aircraft. He has not looked back since.

He has flown almost all available variants of  Gripen, yet he admits that he still hasn’t got enough of it.  Mats, who is at the ‘Aero India 2017’, took time off to chat with Nina C George about what got him hooked to the Gripen.

Why did you choose to be a pilot when you were an aircraft technician?
I was in the Air Force working as an aircraft technician when I got the opportunity to do the pilot test and managed to perform well, so I was selected as a pilot.

Before flying the Gripen, I’ve flown the Viggen, another Swedish aircraft,and about 40 to 50 different kinds of aircraft from the US, Russia and France, before I settled down for Gripen.

Could you elaborate? 
This aircraft is the backbone of a number of air force systems in the world — the Swedish Air Force to start with. It’s a fighter plane that can do many different things. You can even switch from one type of mission to another during flights. It’s very safe.

If you want to switch missions, you just have to push a couple of buttons and every thing is out there for you. The aircraft will do exactly what you tell it to do. It is very agile but still very smooth.

How does it feel to do manoeuvres in a Gripen?
One feels very safe when doing manoeuvres in a Gripen. You feel absolutely secure when you are flying in low altitude, negotiating a bad weather or while involved in a dangerous mission because you are in total control of the aircraft. The technicians of Gripen are also working on providing the pilot with the best possible view of the surroundings which help spot the enemy plane faster.

Do you have women in your team?
We do have some women and they are very good. We have a very strict selection process and if one passes the tough test, then one qualifies to be a Gripen pilot.

What does it take to be pilot for Gripen?
You have to be very confident in yourself, stay focussed and concentrate on doing the right things at the right time. You always need good health.
We do have some women and they are very good. We have a very strict selection process and if one passes the tough test, then one qualifies to be a Gripen pilot.

What does it take to be pilot for Gripen?
You have to be very confident in yourself, stay focussed and concentrate on doing the right things at the right time. You always need good health.

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