Meet Britain’s first female fast-jet pilot, Jo Salter

By Anita Jaynes on 2 July, 2019

The UK’s first female fast-jet fighter pilot, Jo Salter, is set to speak at the Royal International Air Tattoo’s (RIAT) inaugural business club breakfast on Friday 19th July.

Jo, who is now Chief of Staff to the Head of Technology and Investment at auditing giant Price Waterhouse Cooper, will share her experiences in the RAF and business life post leaving her flying career.

We met with Jo to find out more about her and what’s in store for those attending RIAT’s first business networking event.

Did you always want to be a pilot?

I grew up in Croydon and visited a couple of airshows at Biggin Hill as a child. Apart from watching concorde fly over (flying wasn’t an option for women at that time), I didn’t have much knowledge about such opportunities. However, I did love maths and physics and I studied both at A Level as well as electronics.

I applied to join the RAF when I was 17 as part of their University Cadetship scheme and was successful. It was the first year they had offered such schemes to women and I joined the RAF in 1986 at the age of 18 to become an Engineering Officer in the Comms-Electronics branch.

What was the highlight of your RAF career?

Flying the Tornado GR1 was, by far the career highlight at that stage of my life.

What was your proudest moment?

Becoming a mother to both of my gorgeous girls, now 20 and 16.

What can people expect to hear about at the RIAT business club breakfast?

I will talk about what it was like to become Britain’s first female fast-jet pilot, as it offers an insight into managing change, making decisions under pressure, being different, leading yourself as well as others and encouraging diversity.

I have always had a passion for helping others be the best version of themselves they can be, and other people’s stories can inspire others. I also believe in equality and opportunity for all. Diversity isn’t just about gender, race or religion, it’s about thinking differently and allowing people to be their true selves in the workplace.

How well do you know Wiltshire?

It was home for three years, as I attended the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham, whilst studying for my undergraduate degree. During that time, I lived in both Shrivenham and Highworth.

Why is speaking at RIAT of interest to you?

RIAT is close to my heart after so many years in the RAF. I have also run my own business and have an understanding of the associated challenges. I’m looking forward to sharing how leadership and achievement are about the person rather than the sector someone works in or the size of their business, a lesson I’ve learnt from personal experience.

Tickets to the inaugural RIAT Business Club are still available. The event starts at 9.00am with refreshments and structured networking followed by guest speakers from 10am-11am.  The flying display is from 11am-3pm with lunch served during this time. Afternoon tea will follow at 3.00pm with guests departing at about 4.30pm. 

The cost is £220 (plus VAT) per person. You can book online here or email to find out more.

Former rugby legend Rory Underwood has also been named as a guest speaker at the breakfast. Find out more here.

Pictured above: Jo Salter, Britain’s first female fast jet pilot