The Red Arrows

26 Aug 11 6 Comments

My heart broke when I saw the update on the Royal Air force Aerobatic Team website. Until the last, I’d hoped that Flight Lieutenant Egging had managed to eject safely. And then the RED 4 Messages of Condolence page appeared.

It is with sadness that the MOD must confirm the death of Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging of the Royal Air Force Aerobatics Team (The Red Arrows).

Flight Lieutenant Egging was killed when his Hawk T1 aircraft – Red 4 – crashed around 1km South East of Bournemouth Airport at 1350 on Saturday 20 August 2011.

The accident is being investigated and although rumours abound, there is yet no hard information as to what went wrong.

Yesterday in the The Red Arrows Team News, the RAF announced that the Red Arrows would fly back to RAF Scrampton today. However, this morning there was rain and a low cloud base at RAF Scampton and so the flight was cancelled in hopes of better weather tomorrow. A nice reminder that it happens even to the best pilots.

The team will be resume training next week after their return to Scramptom. The Red Arrows have eight-man displays already in their repetoire, in order to go on in case a pilot is unable to fly, so they may resume yet their public display schedule.

Here’s the best of the videos I found of the Red Arrows display at the Quebec International Airshow last year:

Look at them there. They are flying six feet apart. I won’t even get that close to another plane on the ground when I’m trying to park on the apron!

The RAF explain how the Red Arrows were established on their Team History page

The 1950s and 1960s were the heyday of Royal Air Force jet aerobatic display teams. By the mid-60s almost every Flying Training School, and several operational squadrons, had their own teams. So much time, effort and money was being expended on these non-established tasks that the Royal Air Force eventually decided to disband them all and form a single, full-time professional team.

Thus, in 1964, the Red Pelicans flying six Jet Provost T Mk 4s became the first team to represent the Royal Air Force as a whole. In that same year a team of five yellow Folland Gnat jet trainers, known as the Yellowjacks, was formed at No 4 Flying Training School at Royal Air Force Valley in north Wales, led by Flight Lieutenant Lee Jones. The following year Jones was posted to the Central Flying School (CFS) to form the Red Arrows. The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT), the formal name of the Red Arrows, began life at RAF Fairford in Glouces­tershire, then a satellite of CFS. Initially there were seven display pilots and ten Gnat jet trainers.

The name ‘Red Arrows’ was chosen to combine the appeal and expertise of two earlier teams, the famous Black Arrows and the Red Pelicans.

So how do you become a Red Arrow display pilot?

You must have a minimum of 1,500 flying hours and have completed a frontline tour and be assessed as above average in your flying role. From those who fulfill these qualifications, a shortlist of nine applicants is created. They go through a “selection week” including flying tests, interviews and peer assessments. If you are selected, you do a three-year tour before returning to your Royal Air Force duties.

I don’t fit the minimum requirements for the RAF under any circumstances but … well, a girl can dream, can’t she?

And finally, a gallery of stunning Red Arrow images that made me stop and stare (click through the thumbnails to view full-size or right-click to open in a new window):

All images are Crown copyright and taken from the Royal Airforce Press Collection. You can see more imagery of the Red Arrows on the Multimedia page.

Category: Aerobatics,


  • Sylvia,

    Our scale model club produces semi-permanent displays of models for Seattle’s Museum of Flight. I’m producing the upcoming display on military aerobatic teams and am searching for images for the display case backdrop. The shot of the Red Arrows taking off over the camera (right column, middle row of is a good candidate. Unfortunately the Multimedia link on the page is broken and I can’t access the image on the RAF’s original site. As I expect I’ll have to contact them regarding copyright, can you tell me if the name of the file I get from downloading your copy (FD604362_5056_A318_A85933ECF8EFB81C.jpg) is what I would reference when contacting the RAF?

    Kindest regards,
    “Flying is the art of throwing yourself at the ground and missing.” – Arthur Dent. (I assume landing is a case of improving one’s aim?)

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