New pilots prepare to join Red Arrows display team for 2014
Flight Lieutenant Stewart Campbell and Flight Lieutenant Joe Hourston have been announced as the newest members of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.
The two pilots – who have both previously flown operations with the RAF in Afghanistan – will stay with the Red Arrows for three years.
They will begin training in the coming weeks and will be part of the aerobatic team’s famous nine-aircraft formation in 2014 – displaying in front of millions of people at home and overseas and representing the speed, agility and precision of the Royal Air Force.
Flt Lt Campbell and Flt Lt Hourston are joining the Red Arrows after impressing during a tough selection process that involved flight tests, interviews and other exercises.
The team is the public face of the Royal Air Force and assists with recruiting into the service, contributes to defence diplomacy and supports wider national interests by promoting the country’s industry.
Next year is the 50th display season for the team which, since formation, has performed more than 4,500 displays in 54 different countries.
Flt Lt Campbell, 33, who was brought up in the Royal Burgh of Peebles in the Scottish Borders, joined the RAF in 2003.
Before the Red Arrows, he was posted to 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) and flew two operational tours in Afghanistan in Tornado aircraft.
He said: “The Red Arrows represent the pinnacle of fast jet flying and I’m honoured to be joining this famous team.
“They way the team operates and how it represents the air force and UK as a whole, is something I very much wanted to be part of.
“Although, the selection hasn’t sunk in yet, I don’t think I will feel like I’m now a member of the Red Arrows until I taxi out with team leader and go through the first loops and rolls.”
He added: “I’m looking forward to the training in the coming months. The skills and requirements are similar to what is expected in other fast jet roles – just as we work up to fly operationally in Afghanistan, we will now be preparing and working hard for a busy and demanding display season in 2014.”
Flt Lt Campbell, who attended Peebles High School and studied at the University of Edinburgh, said he had wanted to be a pilot since childhood.
He said: “I’ve had a desire to fly fast jets ever since watching military aircraft conduct low flying training from my classroom window at school.”
Flt Lt Hourston was born in Inverness, grew up in the Black Isle village of Cromarty and was educated at Fortrose Academy, before studying at Glasgow University. He started his Initial Officer Training with the RAF in 2001.
The 34-year-old is also a former Tornado GR4 pilot with 617 Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth and served in Afghanistan and on exercise in North America.
He said: “I’m very proud to be joining the Red Arrows and the 50th display season in 2014 makes this a particularly special time to arrive.
“Since day one of deciding to be a pilot I’ve always wanted to be a member of the team because of what it represents and the variety and challenge of the flying itself.
“It’s wonderful to be part of this team and, in turn, help inspire people to consider a career in the Armed Forces and also promote UK plc.
“If anything, I’m sure three years with the Red Arrows will seem far too short by the end.”
Flt Lt Hourston said he was eager to understand what goes on behind-the-scenes at the team and the work involved in helping to ensure the Red Arrows continue to delight crowds.
He said: “People obviously see the team’s nine red Hawk jets performing but there’s much more to it. There’s an experienced and highly-skilled support team and that’s one of the aspects I’m most looking forward to – getting to see how it all works.”
Like every other Red Arrows pilot, the two new members of the team are rated as the very best in terms of flying ability and have previously served as frontline fast jet pilots with the air force.
On completion of a three-year tour with the Red Arrows, the pilots either return to the frontline, instructional or staff duties.
The Red Arrows are ambassadors for the United Kingdom and showcase the professional excellence of the Air Force.
Based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, the Red Arrows currently fly BAE Systems Hawk jets.
The team consists of nine display pilots and 110 support staff, including operations and flight planners, engineering technicians, photographers, safety equipment experts, drivers, a public relations department, suppliers and administrators.
The engineers and support staff are known as The Blues and wear distinctive, blue, coveralls.
The junior engineering officer and nine engineering technicians form a small group known as the ‘Circus’ , who fly in the rear seats of the Hawk aircraft to display locations so servicing can begin before the main support team arrives.
Also announced today are the members of the Circus for the 2014 season, who are:
- Flight Lieutenant Mark Noye – junior engineering officer of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team in 2014
- Sergeant Don Rodd
- Sergeant Stuart Burrow
- Corporal Victoria White
- Corporal Joseph Sproat
- Corporal Jonathan Wilcox
- Corporal Kevin Healey
- Corporal Ross Harrison
- Corporal Ben Laking
- SAC Thomas Lowe