Singer-songwriter and children's author Tom Fletcher landed at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire after a flight in a life time with the USAF Thunderbirds yesterday.

Sitting in the back seat of a F-16 Fighting Falcon, Tom was taken to the skies for an intense ride which saw him momentarily take control of the aircraft to perform a roll and a loop and experience a powerful 9.4G.

Tom has been a regular visitor to RIAT having been introduced to the airshow as a child by his aviation-loving parents. He said: "My birthday always falls around this time and coming to RIAT was a treat. I love seeing the static aircraft and getting up close."

He was also a RAF Air Cadet at 1454 (Harrow) Squadron from the age of 13 where he flew in the Bulldog training aircraft. "This early flying led to me gaining my private pilot's licence and I have regularly flown Cessnas."

Tom said of his Thunderbirds flight: "When I was first told about it I didn't believe it was real, but then the dates for training and briefings were put into my diary. I have been so excited, I couldn't sleep last night. It has been a dream come true.

"I was always watching the films Top Gun and Iron Eagle and I never thought I would actually fly in one of those types of aircraft, or be allowed to handle the control, even if it was just for a few seconds."

The Air Tattoo is staged annually in support of the RAF Charitable Trust.