Red 6, Flight Lieutenant Si Taylor, has spoken of his highlights as a Red Arrows pilot as he completes three years with the team.
The West Yorkshire-born pilot – who was previously Red 3 and Red 7 before becoming the Synchro Pair Leader for 2018 – leaves this Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team this week.
It also marks the conclusion of his military career, during which he’s also flown the Tornado GR4 and Typhoon FGR4 on the frontline with the RAF.
Three other pilots are also leaving the Red Arrows this week and each has shared his favourite moments as a team member.
The first article is by Flt Lt Taylor. Here are his highlights and reflections:
“During 16 years in the Royal Air Force I’ve had some incredible experiences: On the frontline, on operations and exercises around world. Having said that, the three years on the Red Arrows rank as the best experience of my career.
“Working day-in, day-out with a tight-knit team of exceptionally professional, talented and determined people has been a privilege. It’s such a pleasure to be part of an organisation that is unashamed about the high standards it demands, but will support you in every way to help you meet those standards.
“There are a few things that will live long in the memory but the first time you put on that red suit is up there.
“Taking a single engine jet halfway across the world into India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and finally China in 2016 was a real adventure and a real team effort. We all felt a huge sense of pride at representing the United Kingdom when we displayed in China. Completing the Twin Towers flypast in Kuala Lumpur at dusk is something that will stay with me forever.
“I’ve got great memories from some incredible display sites: Helsinki in 2017 as Synchro Two was amazing. I’d never seen so many boats in one place before, until we displayed in Monaco this year. Flying over London this year as part of the RAF 100 flypast you could see just how huge the crowds were, more than any of us expected.
“Naturally, as a pilot, when you join the team your mind turns to the substantial task of making the grade in flying terms. However, it’s in the public relations-parts of the job where I’ve had some of the best experiences.
Chatting to people on the ground at airshows, doing presentations for schools, universities and charities have proved to be some of the most rewarding things I’ve done as a team member.
“I’m aware that leading Synchro and Gypo (Reds 6-9) in the centenary year of the Royal Air Force isn’t something many people get to do and I feel very, very lucky to have been trusted with the opportunity.
“l’ll always know I’ve been a part of something special.
“After 16 years in the RAF I’ve decided to leave and move to commercial flying. I’m quite sad to leave but the time is right and I’m sure it’s going to be a very different challenge.”
Highlights from Reds 3, 8 and 9 - who are also leaving the team - will be published on this website across the next few days.