Ten Things To Know About Ben Murphy
Ben Murphy may be the newest contender in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, but he and the Blades Racing Team promptly added to Britain’s legacy in the sport with a landmark rookie campaign in 2018. Then, just weeks ago, Ben clinched his first-ever race podium with second place at Lake Balaton, Hungary, jumping to fourth overall. As the British ace prepares to fight for the World Championship podium at September’s season finale in Japan, here are some insights on what makes him tick.
1. Aviation is at the heart of the Murphy family. Both of Ben’s grandfathers were pilots in the Royal Air Force; plus his wife, Kirsty, is an aerobatic display pilot who was the first (and only) female pilot for the RAF Red Arrows, and Kirsty’s father was an RAF navigator. It’s little wonder that Ben and Kirsty’s three-year-old son is showing a keen interest in aeroplanes.
2. Ben devoted over 15 years to the Royal Air Force. Ben enlisted in the RAF in 1997 and flew the Harrier, including aircraft carrier duty, before becoming an instructor. He was selected for the Red Arrows in 2006 and was still in his early 30s when he became the Commanding Officer and Team Leader for the 2010 and 2011 display seasons, making him the second youngest ever to serve in that role.
3. He also knows the corporate side of aviation. After his military career, Ben spent almost three years working for aerospace giant Lockheed Martin as a business development manager.
4. He wears several hats – and helmets – with the Blades. Ben became part of the renowned Blades Aerobatic Team in 2015 and was named Head of the Blades the following year. He still flies on the Aerobatic Team when he’s not competing for the Blades Racing Team, and he is responsible for both.
5. Ben has fond memories of a certain Miss Demeanour. Before joining the Blades, Ben flew the famous Miss Demeanour – a 1950s Hawker Hunter – in displays. The aircraft is high on the list of his all-time favourites.
6. His first season in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship set a record. Even with his impressive background, including two seasons and five podiums in the Challenger Class, Ben’s rookie year results at the highest level of Air Racing were an eye-opener. No former member of the sport’s second competition category had ever finished as high as seventh in his first season, or earned as many as 29 points.
7. There’s one food that you’ll never see on his training menu. Fortunately, Ben doesn’t have any nut allergies, because dry-roasted peanuts are his favourite food. But he does have one allergy: quail eggs!
8. He’d be a good teammate in a geography pub quiz. Not only has Ben flown all over the world, but he earned a degree in geography, with honours, from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where (naturally) he also belonged to the Air Squadron.
9. He likes to mix up his workouts. Ben thrives on running, triathlon, skiing and kitesurfing, and even when it comes to leisure, he loves walking in the mountains.
10. His racing number sums up his priorities. Family is hugely important to Ben. “At the end of the day,” he says, “everything else is secondary.” The pilot even chose his racing number, 24, by adding together the birthdates of his daughter, Olivia, and son, Orson.