A FATHER who always dreamed of joining the Royal Air Force's aerobatic team has finally had his wish come true.

Martin Pert, who grew up behind Leavesden Aerodrome watching the airshows in awe, has been announced as the new leader of the Red Arrows.

The 36-year-old was chosen to lead as Red 1 for the 2018 season for the Red Arrows centenary.

He said: “It was such a privileged moment, I am exceedingly proud to have been selected.”

After being funded in part by an RAF flying scholarship during school, Mr Pert learnt to fly and gained his private pilots license at Elstree Aerodrome.

He worked at Elstree Aerodrome part-time whilst studying for his A Levels at Parmiters School, before joining the RAF in February 2000.

“Having lived behind Leavesden Aerodrome as a boy and watching the airshows, I’m sure I can attribute some of my inspiration for joining the RAF to seeing the aircraft flying there," he said.

But his aspirations were cemented at seeing another boy at the school gain an Air Force scholarship and it fuelled his desire to achieve his dream.

He previously served as a pilot in the Red Arrows from 2012 to 2014 and has now returned after a tour flying a Typhoon aircraft on the front line.

The Red Arrows are the public face of the Royal Air force and are ambassadors for the United Kingdom.

The team consist of over 120 members including pilots, engineers and support staff.

Mr Pert said: “Celebrating the RAF’s centenary in 2018 and having experienced the global reach of the team through various world tours, it’s what we can do as the Red Arrows, for the Armed Forces and the United Kingdom, that is tangible everywhere we go.

“Leading the Red Arrows in such an evocative year is a hugely proud moment for me.

"I do feel the weight of responsibility of the public face of the Royal Air Force, but it is absolutely elevated by my excitement and honour to lead at events across the world.

“To be able to lead now is certainly a career highlight.”

Mr Pert, who now in Lincolnshire where the Red Arrows are based, has a three-year-old and a five-year-old.

He added: “My short term goal is to ensure that the Red Arrows continue to represent every member of the Armed Forces in the truly professional and capable manner for which all of the military are respected.

“My personal goal is to continue my trajectory into the world of inspiring aviation.”