VIDEO: Between displays – the Red Arrows

In the RAF Aerobatic Team (RAFAT), the Red Arrows pilots may be the stars the public recognises, but they didn’t join the RAF as stars.

Neither did the RAFAT engineers on whom the pilots depend for keeping their ageing Hawk T1s in fit shape for sharp flying. Nor the admin and logistics team that keeps them on the road.

Stars they all are, but most of the time it doesn’t feel like it. Most of the time it’s like, well, it’s like being in the RAF.   The RAF’s what they joined, the RAF gave them the skills they bring to the team, and the RAF’s what they are.

Red 1 disembarks

Red 1 disembarks

Their lives are a combination of sustained hard work, a lot of time on the road, and a job that consists of taking carefully calculated risks without having accidents. When the accidents don’t happen, the team can get moments of intense job satisfaction. But getting on a high can be dangerous in a job like this, and they know it.

The sun doesn't always shine. Especially at RAF Fairford

The sun doesn’t always shine. Especially at RAF Fairford

 

A lot of the time is spent hanging around in drafty hangars...

A lot of the time is spent hanging around in drafty hangars…

 

...or hanging around with the Blues in a crewroom...

…or hanging around with the Blues in a crewroom…

...or doing things that come with the job, like signing RAFAT posters to raise money for RAF charities...

…or doing things that come with the job, like signing RAFAT posters to raise money for RAF charities…

 

...or talking to journalists like me. Their job isn't just flying, or fixing aeroplanes - they are the public face of the RAF. Expectations are high.

…or talking to journalists like me. Their job isn’t just flying, or fixing aeroplanes – they are the public face of the RAF. Expectations are high.

In 2011 the Reds lost two pilots in separate accidents within three months. The display season was shut down two weeks early and the team re-grouped at its RAF Scampton base for the most difficult winter of their lives. There was no guarantee that there would be a 2012 season, and even the possibility that the RAFAT would be retired as a luxury the Service couldn’t afford at a time of austerity.

In the Flight International Farnborough special issue (8 July,) we will tell the story of how the Red Arrows nearly died, how the team fought back from the massive blow to morale that the loss of two colleagues represented. You can read about the personal and the politics, about what this year – the 50th Display Season – means to the team and to the RAF, and what kind of future the RAFAT can expect from here onward.

Don’t miss it.

, , , ,

One Response to VIDEO: Between displays – the Red Arrows

  1. Michael Powell 24 June, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    Absolutely stunning. Never tire watching these guys…they make me proud…go Reds!

Leave a Reply