Paul Bonhomme was born in England on September 22, 1964. His extensive career includes flying as a commercial pilot, an aerobatic racer and an airshow performer.
Born into a family of aviators, Bonhomme was a natural to take up the profession himself. He received his private pilot license at the age of 18 and became a flight instructor. Shortly after, Bonhomme began his commercial pilot career, working as an air taxi pilot, a charter pilot for the Welch charter airline, Air Cymru, and finally becoming captain for British Airways, piloting Boeing 747s.
Bonhomme started flying aerobatic planes in 1986, originally piloting an Ultimate Pitts bi-plane and progressing to a Yak-50, an Extra 300 and then a Sukhoi Su-26. Eventually he purchased his own aerobatics aircraft, an Edge 540 that he uses today most notably in the Red Bull Air Race series. A longtime competitor in the Red Bull Air Race, Bonhomme has competed as No. 55 (previously No. 2) since its inception in 2003 and has had 11 race wins. He is currently the incumbent to beat in 2014.
Paul Bonhomme – Aircraft Types
Passionate about vintage British and American fighters, Bonhomme has been participating in airshows doing formation flying as a part of “The Matadors” with colleague Steve Jones since 1994. Planes he has flown include: Supermarine Spitfire (MkV, MkIX, MkIXT and MkXIV), Hawker Hurricane, P-40 Kittyhawk, F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat, F8F Bearcat, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-63 Kingcobra, P-51 Mustang and AD-4 Skyraider. “The Matadors” have won three gold medals and one silver medal in the FAI series.
In 2009, Bonhomme was the recipient of the Segrave Trophy which is awarded to a British national who accomplishes the most outstanding demonstration of the possibilities of transport by land, sea, air, or water. He was awarded the Guild Sword of Honour by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in 2010 for outstanding contributions to General Aviation.