[SLIDESHOW] Red Arrows display air supremacy

Photos by Chris Mangion of Saturday's display by the Red Arrows

Perfectly in synch, the Red Arrows, photographed by Chris Mangion
Perfectly in synch, the Red Arrows, photographed by Chris Mangion

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, commonly known as the ‘Red Arrows’, are the public face of the Royal Air Force and one of the world’s premier aerobatic teams, supporting British interests overseas by contributing to defence diplomacy efforts

Their first public display was on 9 May 1965 at Clermont Ferrand in France, flying the Folland Gnat before turning to the RAF's advanced fast jet trainer, currently the BAE SYSTEMS Hawk T1.

The reason they are called the ‘Red Arrows’ was that by 1965, Royal Air Force training aircraft were predominantly red in colour. The ‘arrows’ part of the title was in recognition of the Black Arrows, a very popular squadron aerobatic team in the late 50s and early 60s.

All pilots are subject to rigorous annual examination by the Royal Air Force Central Flying School, a standards organisation, and all pilots fly regular sorties in Hawk flight simulators to test emergency handling and procedures.

They also undergo a rigorous winter training programme. In the early part of the training season the pilots fly in small groups of four, five or six aircraft. As the months pass and they gain experience, the number of aircraft in the formation is gradually increased and the base height lowered.

Usually by mid-January, British weather permitting, the team will be practising with nine aircraft at display heights.

The ‘smoke’ produced during displays is actually vapour, allowing allow the team leader to judge the wind speed and direction far more accurately than by any other means.

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