VIDEO: Lincolnshire’s Red Arrows look ahead to spectacular 2016 season of shows
The Red Arrows are set to inspire millions of people in 2016 after the aerobatic team was given formal approval to perform this year.
Following months of training, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team was formally awarded its Public Display Authority (PDA) earlier today.
It is the final assessment before the Red Arrows are allowed to begin their latest season.
The team, which showcases the excellence of the Royal Air Force and represents the United Kingdom, will now embark on its 52nd display season – performing to millions of individuals across the country and overseas.
Squadron Leader David Montenegro, Team Leader and Red 1, said: “Public Display Authority is a very important day in the Red Arrows’ calendar as it signifies the end of many months of training.
“We reflect on the efforts from the whole team that have gone into accomplishing the accolade of being ready to display for the UK and global public.
“Everyone on the Red Arrows has a role to play in our winter training months – we have 18-year-old technicians who are on their first detachment with the team, indeed within the Royal Air Force, and who have being honing their engineering skills throughout the past months and have enabled the air crew to fly our aircraft.
“There are also squadron transport drivers who have covered thousands of miles delivering spare parts for the aircraft around the UK and mainland Europe.
“Furthermore, there are two new team pilots, Reds 2 and 3. In short, PDA is the culmination of teamwork and more than 150 demanding training sorties.”
Following the approval, the pilots were allowed to change from their green coveralls, used during training, into their famous red flying suits, which are worn during the season.
The Squadron’s support staff, who number more than 100 and include engineering technicians, administrators, photographers and others, also changed their coveralls, into their royal blue flying suits.
The team – famous for flying nine British-built Hawk fast-jets – changes its display every year, with the 2015 routine seen by more than 15 million people at events and shows across a five-month season.
Sqn Ldr Montenegro, who is responsible for all aspects of the display, from running the training programme to creating the show, said: “On every RAF squadron, innovation is always the key to success and the Red Arrows are unveiling some innovative new manoeuvres for the watching public this year.
“The arrival into the 2016 show is called ‘Wall’, which sees the widest Red Arrows formation flown for many years rapidly transforming into the closest of all our shapes while flying a loop.
“Another new move is ‘Tornado’ and celebrates 25 years of continual operational service of the RAF’s Tornado force and displays Reds 8 and 9 rolling around the rest of the team.
“Also, we have the ‘Double Goose’ – a manoeuvre flown by the team many years ago which presents seven aircraft in a pyramid formation while the Synchro Pair – Reds 6 and 7 – fly right through the middle, at a closing speed of 750mph.”
Preparations for the new season began in October, when training commenced at the Red Arrows’ home base of RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.
Pilots fly three times a day, five days a week, beginning with small groups of three or four aircraft.
The training develops until the team’s full nine-ship formation comes together in February.
The final part of the PDA process took place at the Hellenic Air Force Base (HAF) in Tanagra, Greece, this week.
Here, the Red Arrows have been carrying out overseas training, known as Exercise Springhawk – making full use of the area’s fine weather conditions to allow the team to perfect its 23-minute show.
The Royal Air Force’s Deputy Commander Operations, Air Marshal Greg Bagwell, and Air Officer Commanding 22 Training Group, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Turner, scrutinised all aspects of the team on the ground and in the air, including several displays over two days.
PDA is only awarded when the senior officers are satisfied of the highest safety standards and that the team is performing a display that is a credit to both the Service and United Kingdom.
The latest season is the first as Red Arrows pilots for the team’s newest recruits – Reds 2 and 3, Flight Lieutenants Matt Masters and Si Taylor – who will stay with the Squadron for three years.
All Red Arrows pilots are from frontline squadrons and, before joining the team, operated jets such as the Tornado or the Typhoon, helping the Royal Air Force to secure the skies and protect the United Kingdom and its interests at all hours, 365 days a year.
The Red Arrows will return to their home base later this week.
The 2016 team’s first major public show is on Sunday, May 8, at Shuttleworth, Bedfordshire.
It is one of 80 displays planned this year.
Sqn Ldr Montenegro said: “We cannot wait to entertain, captivate and inspire our audiences this year. We are extremely proud to represent the RAF and the UK and hope you enjoy our display.”
For more information on the Red Arrows, follow @rafredarrows on Twitter or view the team’s Facebook page.