Red Arrows - Kemble 2011 ©Nigel Key
The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The 'Red Arrows' fly nine BAE Systems Hawk T. Mk.1 advanced trainer aircraft, which are currently based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.
There is also a 10th Red Arrow which is flown by the Team Manager who provides commentry during the display. The 10th Hawk is also used for air to air photography of the rest of the team.
During international tours, the Red Arrows have been used to market the BAE Systems Hawk to overseas customers with considerable success.
The 'Red Arrows' display team was formed in 1965 flying the Folland Gnat. Previously the team was known as the 'Yellow Jacks' due to the yellow colour of the aircraft, however, they were changed to red and the Red Arrows were born.
The very first display by the Red Arrows was on the 6th May 1965 at RAF Little Rissington, near Cirencester where they were introduced to the media. The first public display was at Clermont Ferrand in France on 9th May 1965 and the first UK public display was at Biggin Hill on 15th May 1965.
The Red Arrows were initially based at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, and had only seven display pilots. By 1968 the team flew with nine aircraft and the Diamond Nine formation became their trademark.
In 1979/80 the Red Arrows converted to the BAe Hawk advanced trainer aircraft which they still use today. Until early 1976 the Red Arrows operated from RAF Kemble as a detachment of the Central Flying School (CFS) based at RAF Little Rissington. CFS moved to Cranwell in April 1976 and thereafter, the Red Arrows were parented by RAF Brize Norton although they continued to fly from Kemble. They were based there up until the Spring of 1983 when they re-located to RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.
In 1995 they had to temporarily move to RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire because RAF Scampton was closed as part of the Defence Costs Study. The Red Arrows returned home to RAF Scampton in December of 2000. RAF Scampton will continue to be a satellite airfield administered by RAF Cranwell.
The team's first leader was Lee Jones who passed the leadership to Ray Hanna in 1966. Ray led the Red Arrows for four seasons and went on to become the best known UK warbird display pilot.
The Red Arrows do not fly directly over the crowd below 1000 feet. Manoeuvres in front of and parallel to the crowd can be flown down to 200 feet. The Synchro Pair are allowed down to 100 feet in straight and level flight in front of and parallel to the crowd line. Inverted flight by the Synchro pilots is not below 150 feet above the ground. These and other restrictions virtually eliminate the possibility of an accident similar to the one at Ramstein some years ago.
In 2010, Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Moore became the first female Red Arrows pilot. Flt Lt Moore joined the RAF in 1998, becoming a Hawk instructor and then Tornado pilot. She was not the first woman to apply for the Red Arrows, but she was the first to be shortlisted and then selected for the team.
A 2010 pre-season incident resulted in the loss of a Hawk aircraft and the ejection of the pilot. More details at: Red Arrows collision, and Red Arrows update.
In 2011, there was a fatal crash after the Bournemouth Airshow resulting in the loss of Red 4, Flt Lt Jon Egging, and tragically, there was also another fatal incident in November 2011 involving Flt Lt Sean Cunningham.
Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Stewart (Red 9) left the team at the beginning of 2012 so it was decided to display with just seven aircraft instead of the usual nine to keep a symmetrical shape to the formation. During fly-pasts the Red Arrows reverted back to nine aircraft by including Red 8 and Red 10.
Red Arrows Relocation
RAF Scampton will be closed by 2022 and the Red Arrows reloacted to another RAF base.
In May 2020 it was announced that the Red Arrows would be based at RAF Waddington and relocation will take place before RAF Scampton closes in late 2022. The airspace over RAF Scampton will be retained for the team's training and display practice.
Visit the Official Red Arrows Website
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