Introducing our new Head of Learning and Development

November 9, 2023
Nathan Gray

Meet Nathan Gray, Padpilot’s new Head of Learning and Development.

We’re delighted to welcome Nathan to the Padpilot community.

Nathan is an experienced high-risk test pilot, fighter pilot and fast jet flight instructor.  

He flew with the Fleet Air Arm (the aviation branch of the Royal Navy) for over two decades and is among the most decorated pilots in the British armed forces.

Nathan has flown numerous aircraft including the Harrier, F-15, F-16, F-18, and F-35 and flew over 140 combat missions. He also qualified as a commando green beret, paratrooper and forward air controller. 

Nathan was recruited to the ground-breaking F-35 stealth jet development program and conducted the first-ever F-35 launch and recovery on HMS Queen Elizabeth in front of an audience of VIPs and the world’s media in 2018.

British Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray in the F-35B Lightning II after making the first deck landing aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth, Sept. 25, 2018. Photo credit: US Dept of Defense.

As a trainee Harrier pilot in 2002, Nathan walked away from an ‘unsurvivable’ accident, caused by a tiny piece of FOD (foreign object debris) and during which his instructor, Lt Cdr London, was killed.

Nathan vowed he’d leave the military before reaching the same age that London was at the time of the accident. So retired as a Commander in 2019 and says his post-military career is defined by a desire to give back to the industry. 

We’re honoured Nathan is bringing the depth and breadth of his experience to the Padpilot team.

As an instructor and student himself many times during his military career, and having worked with the most advanced aviation technology in existence, Nathan’s insight, experience and leadership will propel Padpilot’s development of new learning technologies for student pilots to the next level

Having worked with the best of military technology, I’m now excited to be joining Padpilot’s agile, passionate team to develop new, cutting-edge resources for commercial pilot training.


Nathan, tell us what attracted you to this role? 

NG: I’m excited to join an agile, forward-thinking, passionate team developing cutting-edge, next generation learning for the civil aviation industry. And I’m looking forward to helping to create efficient, effective, immersive, and enjoyable learning experiences for pilots. 

Efficiency isn’t a very exciting word is it? But it’s vital. As a pilot you’re always learning: new types, new roles, new operations. So why not get your foundational knowledge in place properly the first time around? Otherwise you’re having to relearn the basics during type training, or command training, or whatever the next challenge is – which is huge waste of time and learning opportunities. It’s important to build skills and knowledge efficiently with the long term in mind. 

What are your thoughts about the future of pilot training? 

NG: Developing and demonstrating key behaviours and fundamental knowledge is essential to operating safely and professionally. Using educational technology such as artificial intelligence and virtual/augmented reality together with our outstanding theoretical material Padpilot will continue to be the learning-leader in the pilot training sector.   

Over the next 10 years the civil aviation industry predicts 2.3 million new personnel are needed and of those, 650,000 newly qualified pilots are required to support this dynamic and evolving industry. 

At Padpilot we celebrate being pioneers and are proud to lead the TK field with beliefs and values that enable future pilots to develop to their full potential – from the aspiring private pilot to an experienced commercial airline captain.

Nathan Gray is a STEM ambassador and the author of Hazard Spectrum, a first-person account of his journey to the top of the Fleet Air Arm.  

Nathan will be attending EATS 2023 and you can hear more about his military career on this podcast.

Meet more of the Padpilot team here. 

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