Team Raven is a formation aerobatic display team flying self-build RV8 aircraft, painting shapes across the skies in their wake.

Sponsored by and affiliated with

Team Raven is a formation aerobatic display team flying self-build RV8 aircraft, painting shapes across the skies in their wake.

Sponsored by and affiliated with

About Us

Put together one of the world’s best-selling self-build aircraft and six hugely experienced pilots, and what you have is Team Raven, a formation aerobatic display team that formed in 2014 and has displayed all across Europe. 

The name ‘Raven’ came from a play on the letters ‘RV’ (which makes more sense if written ‘RaVen’ as it on the team’s badge). RV refers to the aircraft they display, the amazing Vans RV-8. It’s an all-aluminium tandem two-seater, fully aerobatic with good ‘g’ limits. The RV-8’s 180hp engine has an excellent power-to-weight ratio, which combined with an efficient airframe gives the aircraft the performance and fighter-like handling that make it perfect for formation flying.

The team’ aircraft have been modified with smoke systems, greatly adding to their dynamic display which exploits the RV-8 capabilities to the full. Entirely self-funded, Team Raven are based at Swansea Airport.

Put together one of the world’s best-selling self-build aircraft and six hugely experienced pilots, and what you have is Team Raven, a formation aerobatic display team that formed in 2014 and has displayed all across Europe. 

The name ‘Raven’ came from a play on the letters ‘RV’ (which makes more sense if written ‘RaVen’ as it on the team’s badge). RV refers to the aircraft they display, the amazing Vans RV-8. It’s an all-aluminium tandem two-seater, fully aerobatic with good ‘g’ limits. The RV-8’s 180hp engine has an excellent power-to-weight ratio, which combined with an efficient airframe gives the aircraft the performance and fighter-like handling that make it perfect for formation flying.

The team’ aircraft have been modified with smoke systems, greatly adding to their dynamic display which exploits the RV-8 capabilities to the full. Entirely self-funded, Team Raven are based at Swansea Airport.

The Pilots

Raven 1 - Simon 'Sid' Shirley

Raven 1 – Simon ‘Sid’ Shirley

Sid, now in his 9th season as a display pilot, is a former RAF fast jet pilot with around 5,500 hours flying time having done multiple tours on the Tornado F3 (flying missions over the Balkans in 1995) as well as QFI tours on the Hawk, the Grob Tutor in the University Air Squadron & Elementary Flying Training roles & on the Grob 120TP Prefect.  He now serves as a full-time Reservist QFI & AEF Flight Commander on the Universities of Wales Air Squadron at St Athan flying the Grob Tutor once more.  He joined the RAF straight from school (he is NOT academic!), could fly jets before he could drive & was a front-line F3 pilot at 22, although by current Raven Team member’s standards he is a ‘late starter’ having only gone first solo at 17.  Unlike the other ex-military pilots in the Team, Sid was too slow when it came to dodging ground tours & has served as Staff in HQ Air Command & in Kabul Afghanistan.  2003 saw an invitation from Chris Heames to instruct on the Yak 52 formation school at North Weald where he went on to meet some of the current members of the Team.  The opportunity to display is a dream-come-true for him.  A keen motorcyclist, Sid has been known to tour Europe (mainly the Pyrenees) with other bikers & is also a passionate skier.  He lives in Cardiff & when not teaching University Air Squadron students to fly or displaying with the Team, he enjoys travelling, cooking (never trust a thin chef!) & amateur astronomy. 

Team Raven Pilot

Team Raven Pilot

Pete has been flying all his life and is a self-confessed air junkie having amassed over 6000 hours, all of which on tail-draggers.  He went solo on his 16th birthday in a glider & retains a keen interest in gliding.  After trying for selection as an RAF pilot, Pete specialised as an aircraft engineer & he now owns & is Director of Zulu Glasstek Ltd, a composite aircraft maintenance/sales company based in Oxfordshire.  He started power flying as a glider tow plane pilot on Piper Cubs & Pawnees after which he progressed onto aerobatic types amassing hrs in RV8, Sbach XA42, Cap 10 & the RF4D amongst others.  He built one of the first ever RV8s in the UK in 2002 but sadly could not get it back to fly in the team so he has acquired another.  He built a Silence Twister aircraft & started a solo display act 2007 which progressed into the Twister Duo; a Team he led for 10 years displaying all over the world.  In 2009 he was the first to perform an aircraft pyro display in the UK & he went on to lead the first team to perform pyro displays, which he has done in most of Europe, China, the UAE & Bahrain.  His interests include motorcycling; he has ridden a monkey bike (small motorcycle) 1000km across the Andes into the rainforests of Peru, & again a similar trip from the Sahara to Marrakech across the Atlas mountains!  Pete is very happy to join Team Raven in 2022 which he did on the premise he didn’t have to lead – he feels he has done plenty of that!

Team Raven Pilot

Team Raven Pilot

With a career in aviation spanning 38 years & 15,000 hours on 70 different types of aircraft & helicopters, Russ is making a return to the display arena this season after a break of 8 years.  His passion for aviation was seeded at the age of 11 when his father taught him to fly gliders.  He soloed at the age of 16, gaining a flying licence 18 months before his driving licence.  Joining the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm straight from school, Russ went on to fly Sea King Helicopters in the Anti-Submarine & Search & Rescue roles before being selected to fly Fast Jets.  After re-training onto the Sea Harrier, he joined 800 Naval Air Squadron in 1993, just as the Balkan crisis flared up.  Leaving the front line with 67 combat missions under his belt, he instructed on the Hawk & Sea Harrier before taking up his final flying role in uniform as the Boss of the Royal Navy’s Fixed Wing Standards Organisation.  Russ displayed the Sea Harrier for 2 years, then the Swordfish & Sea Hawk for the Navy’s Historic Flight as well as the Rolls-Royce Spitfire Mk 19 at air shows throughout the UK & Europe.   He became the Chief Pilot of what is now Spitfires.com in 2010 flying the TR9 Spitfire, G-ILDA.  A career change to airline pilot flying for Monarch, Etihad & Emirates on Airbus A320 & A380 respectively, meant a temporary hiatus for display flying & he returned to the UK in 2020 after widespread redundancies in the Airlines.  Russ has now returned to his military roots & is once again training the next generation of Naval & RAF fighter pilots at RAF Valley on the Hawk T2.

Raven 4 - Gerald Williams

Raven 4 – Gerald Williams

Gerald, originally a professional rugby player in Wales, New Zealand & South Africa is now a successful businessman in the Swansea area.  A keen PPL pilot for 25 years with more than 2000 hours he is arguably one of the most experienced military jet pilots on the civilian scene having flown (& owned) many ex-military jets including (but not limited to) L29, L39, Jet Provost, Strikemaster, Vampire, Venom & Hunter T7 and FGA9.  Gerald is also an experienced piston fixed wing pilot & helicopter pilot having owned a couple of Yak 52s & a Wasp.  A very experienced display pilot, he has displayed all of his ex-military jets & the Wasp, the former with Team Viper.  He Also displayed with a Yak 52 team in South Africa.

With unquenchable enthusiasm & drive, Gerald is the fuel to the momentum of the Team & with his extensive networking links in the display arena is the Team’s display schedule organiser & communications into the Team.  In his precious little spare time Gerald enjoys spending time with his 2 teen-age children, including supporting his son in his own rugby career and he remains an avid fan regularly watching the game.   Another natural wit he is always at the centre of any social event & is the archetypal life and soul of the party.

Raven 5 – Mark Southern

Raven 5 – Mark Southern

Mark by trade is an airline pilot with significant experience over the last 30 years on both Boeing & Airbus ranges of aircraft & is an ex-RAF fast jet pilot having flown the Tornado GR1 & the Jet Provost in the instructional role.  Also an experienced display pilot, all of Mark’s previous display experience has been on ex-military jets having owned & displayed his own Hunter GA11 with Team Viper with Gerald & Chris.  Mark, being from the North has a naturally laid-back approach to all he does.  However, this relaxed attitude is actually a veneer for a wealth of aviation knowledge and a quick, dry wit.  Mark lives outside Manchester & in his spare time enjoys high speed downhill skiing & house building; the latter being a skill he practices in order to stay grounded with ‘earthy’ people.

Team Raven Pilot

Team Raven Pilot

Chris is a prolific aviator having been first solo in gliders at the age of 16.  Since then, he has barely set foot out of an aircraft having been an RAF fast jet pilot on Lightnings, Phantoms, Tornado GR1 & F3 as well as an instructor on Tucano & Tornado GR1, finally ending his RAF flying career as the Chief Instructor at the RAF’s gliding school – & despite all of his time on cold war RAF aircraft, he only ejected once!  Out-with his RAF flying, Chris has been ever-present in aviation in other avenues, most notably in display flying wherein he has been displaying nigh-on continuously since 1996 on aircraft such as Yak 50s, JPs, Strikemasters, Hunters & Gnats; indeed, he was the Team leader for Team Viper with Gerald & Mark.  Recently he has become a Team member of the Global Stars which he still flies for in the Extra 300.  He has stepped up at (very) short notice to cover a shortfall due to illness in the Team.  In his (limited) spare time, Chris is an avid bridge player

Raven 1 - Simon 'Sid' Shirley

Raven 1 – Simon ‘Sid’ Shirley

Sid, now in his 9th season as a display pilot, is a former RAF fast jet pilot with around 5,500 hours flying time having done multiple tours on the Tornado F3 (flying missions over the Balkans in 1995) as well as QFI tours on the Hawk, the Grob Tutor in the University Air Squadron & Elementary Flying Training roles & on the Grob 120TP Prefect.  He now serves as a full-time Reservist QFI & AEF Flight Commander on the Universities of Wales Air Squadron at St Athan flying the Grob Tutor once more.  He joined the RAF straight from school (he is NOT academic!), could fly jets before he could drive & was a front-line F3 pilot at 22, although by current Raven Team member’s standards he is a ‘late starter’ having only gone first solo at 17.  Unlike the other ex-military pilots in the Team, Sid was too slow when it came to dodging ground tours & has served as Staff in HQ Air Command & in Kabul Afghanistan.  2003 saw an invitation from Chris Heames to instruct on the Yak 52 formation school at North Weald where he went on to meet some of the current members of the Team.  The opportunity to display is a dream-come-true for him.  A keen motorcyclist, Sid has been known to tour Europe (mainly the Pyrenees) with other bikers & is also a passionate skier.  He lives in Cardiff & when not teaching University Air Squadron students to fly or displaying with the Team, he enjoys travelling, cooking (never trust a thin chef!) & amateur astronomy.

Team Raven Pilot

Team Raven Pilot

Pete has been flying all his life and is a self-confessed air junkie having amassed over 6000 hours, all of which on tail-draggers.  He went solo on his 16th birthday in a glider & retains a keen interest in gliding.  After trying for selection as an RAF pilot, Pete specialised as an aircraft engineer & he now owns & is Director of Zulu Glasstek Ltd, a composite aircraft maintenance/sales company based in Oxfordshire.  He started power flying as a glider tow plane pilot on Piper Cubs & Pawnees after which he progressed onto aerobatic types amassing hrs in RV8, Sbach XA42, Cap 10 & the RF4D amongst others.  He built one of the first ever RV8s in the UK in 2002 but sadly could not get it back to fly in the team so he has acquired another.  He built a Silence Twister aircraft & started a solo display act 2007 which progressed into the Twister Duo; a Team he led for 10 years displaying all over the world.  In 2009 he was the first to perform an aircraft pyro display in the UK & he went on to lead the first team to perform pyro displays, which he has done in most of Europe, China, the UAE & Bahrain.  His interests include motorcycling; he has ridden a monkey bike (small motorcycle) 1000km across the Andes into the rainforests of Peru, & again a similar trip from the Sahara to Marrakech across the Atlas mountains!  Pete is very happy to join Team Raven in 2022 which he did on the premise he didn’t have to lead – he feels he has done plenty of that!

Team Raven Pilot

Team Raven Pilot

With a career in aviation spanning 38 years & 15,000 hours on 70 different types of aircraft & helicopters, Russ is making a return to the display arena this season after a break of 8 years.  His passion for aviation was seeded at the age of 11 when his father taught him to fly gliders.  He soloed at the age of 16, gaining a flying licence 18 months before his driving licence.  Joining the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm straight from school, Russ went on to fly Sea King Helicopters in the Anti-Submarine & Search & Rescue roles before being selected to fly Fast Jets.  After re-training onto the Sea Harrier, he joined 800 Naval Air Squadron in 1993, just as the Balkan crisis flared up.  Leaving the front line with 67 combat missions under his belt, he instructed on the Hawk & Sea Harrier before taking up his final flying role in uniform as the Boss of the Royal Navy’s Fixed Wing Standards Organisation.  Russ displayed the Sea Harrier for 2 years, then the Swordfish & Sea Hawk for the Navy’s Historic Flight as well as the Rolls-Royce Spitfire Mk 19 at air shows throughout the UK & Europe.   He became the Chief Pilot of what is now Spitfires.com in 2010 flying the TR9 Spitfire, G-ILDA.  A career change to airline pilot flying for Monarch, Etihad & Emirates on Airbus A320 & A380 respectively, meant a temporary hiatus for display flying & he returned to the UK in 2020 after widespread redundancies in the Airlines.  Russ has now returned to his military roots & is once again training the next generation of Naval & RAF fighter pilots at RAF Valley on the Hawk T2.

Raven 4 - Gerald Williams

Raven 4 – Gerald Williams

Gerald, originally a professional rugby player in Wales, New Zealand & South Africa is now a successful businessman in the Swansea area.  A keen PPL pilot for 25 years with more than 2000 hours he is arguably one of the most experienced military jet pilots on the civilian scene having flown (& owned) many ex-military jets including (but not limited to) L29, L39, Jet Provost, Strikemaster, Vampire, Venom & Hunter T7 and FGA9.  Gerald is also an experienced piston fixed wing pilot & helicopter pilot having owned a couple of Yak 52s & a Wasp.  A very experienced display pilot, he has displayed all of his ex-military jets & the Wasp, the former with Team Viper.  He Also displayed with a Yak 52 team in South Africa.

With unquenchable enthusiasm & drive, Gerald is the fuel to the momentum of the Team & with his extensive networking links in the display arena is the Team’s display schedule organiser & communications into the Team.  In his precious little spare time Gerald enjoys spending time with his 2 teen-age children, including supporting his son in his own rugby career and he remains an avid fan regularly watching the game.   Another natural wit he is always at the centre of any social event & is the archetypal life and soul of the party.

Raven 5 – Mark Southern

Raven 5 – Mark Southern

Mark by trade is an airline pilot with significant experience over the last 30 years on both Boeing & Airbus ranges of aircraft & is an ex-RAF fast jet pilot having flown the Tornado GR1 & the Jet Provost in the instructional role.  Also an experienced display pilot, all of Mark’s previous display experience has been on ex-military jets having owned & displayed his own Hunter GA11 with Team Viper with Gerald & Chris.  Mark, being from the North has a naturally laid-back approach to all he does.  However, this relaxed attitude is actually a veneer for a wealth of aviation knowledge and a quick, dry wit.  Mark lives outside Manchester & in his spare time enjoys high speed downhill skiing & house building; the latter being a skill he practices in order to stay grounded with ‘earthy’ people.

Team Raven Pilot

Team Raven Pilot

Chris is a prolific aviator having been first solo in gliders at the age of 16.  Since then, he has barely set foot out of an aircraft having been an RAF fast jet pilot on Lightnings, Phantoms, Tornado GR1 & F3 as well as an instructor on Tucano & Tornado GR1, finally ending his RAF flying career as the Chief Instructor at the RAF’s gliding school – & despite all of his time on cold war RAF aircraft, he only ejected once!  Out-with his RAF flying, Chris has been ever-present in aviation in other avenues, most notably in display flying wherein he has been displaying nigh-on continuously since 1996 on aircraft such as Yak 50s, JPs, Strikemasters, Hunters & Gnats; indeed, he was the Team leader for Team Viper with Gerald & Mark.  Recently he has become a Team member of the Global Stars which he still flies for in the Extra 300.  He has stepped up at (very) short notice to cover a shortfall due to illness in the Team.  In his (limited) spare time, Chris is an avid bridge player

The Aircraft

Image © Paul Johnson/Flightline UK

The RV-8 retains the fighter-like feel of centreline seating making it perfect for formation flying.  The RV8 has a fuel capacity of around 170 litres – and with its efficient airframe provide long range and high cruise speeds, so long distances can be covered easily.  The speed and the excellent climb rate provide options for dealing with weather and terrain that simply aren’t available to most pilots.  With a single occupant, it would take off in 250’ and climb out at 2600 fpm.  All the aircraft have subtle changes within as they are home built but generally follow the same design.

 

  • Engine: Lycoming Superior IO-360
  • Max Speed: 220mph
  • Length: 21 ft 0 in (6.40 m)
  • Wingspan: 24 ft 0 in (7.32 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
  • Wing area: 116 sq ft (10.8 m2)
The RV-8 retains the fighter-like feel of centreline seating making it perfect for formation flying.  The RV8 has a fuel capacity of around 170 litres – and with its efficient airframe provide long range and high cruise speeds, so long distances can be covered easily.  The speed and the excellent climb rate provide options for dealing with weather and terrain that simply aren’t available to most pilots.  With a single occupant, it would take off in 250’ and climb out at 2600 fpm.  All the aircraft have subtle changes within as they are home built but generally follow the same design.

 

  • Engine: Lycoming Superior IO-360
  • Max Speed: 220mph
  • Length: 21 ft 0 in (6.40 m)
  • Wingspan: 24 ft 0 in (7.32 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
  • Wing area: 116 sq ft (10.8 m2)
Team Raven Vans RV8

Team News

Image © Paul Johnson/Flightline UK
Image © Paul Johnson/Flightline UK

2022 Display Season Underway

Our 2022 Display Season is underway with displays at the Midlands Air Festival and the IWM Duxford Summer Airshow in the past month. We have a full season of airshows coming up and our latest display calendar can be found on our websites - Click Here

Where to see us

Image © Paul Johnson/Flightline UK

2022 Display Season

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