New pilots join Red Arrows for 2020 season

New pilots have begun training for their first season with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.

Preparations for the Red Arrows’ 2020 programme are already underway.

Joining the team this year are three new pilots, who have been selected to succeed those who left at the end of last season.

Each of them is an experienced RAF officer, having all previously flown Typhoon aircraft operationally.

The new Red Arrows pilots joining for 2020.
The new Red Arrows pilots joining for the 2020 season - (left-to-right) Flight Lieutenants Will Cambridge, Nick Critchell and James Turner.

They will now spend the next three years with the Red Arrows, helping to demonstrate the best of British with aerobatic displays at home and overseas.

Among them is Flight Lieutenant Will Cambridge, who will fly as Red 2 in 2020.

He said: “It is a huge privilege to be selected for the Red Arrows. The team showcases the best of the RAF in terms of professionalism and excellence and also represents the United Kingdom.

“The Red Arrows are an iconic team and being part of it, even for only a short, three-year period, will be the highlight of my flying career.”

The 36-year-old was educated at Ravens Wood School, Kent, before going on to read modern history at Brasenose College, Oxford.

He joined the RAF in 2006 to commence Initial Officer Training and, prior to this, Flt Lt Cambridge was a member of the Oxford University Air Squadron.

Flight Lieutenant Will Cambridge is Red 2.
Flight Lieutenant Will Cambridge is Red 2.

Following flying training, he was selected to operate the Tornado GR4 aircraft and took part in a number of varied detachments, in places ranging from Gibraltar to Arizona.

Flt Lt Cambridge then moved to the Typhoon in 2014 and his duties included conducting Quick Reaction Alert – safeguarding the skies of the UK and the Falkland Islands, together with NATO air policing duties in the Baltic region and exercises in Las Vegas and the United Arab Emirates.

In 2018 Flt Lt Cambridge was posted to instruct Typhoon pilots at 29 Squadron, at RAF Coningsby, before his selection for the Red Arrows.

He said: “I cannot wait to focus on the skill of formation aerobatic flying. It is very different to any discipline I have learnt so far in my flying career.

“Furthermore, I am looking forward to the teamwork element. That applies not just to the pilots displaying but to all the members of the team whose roles are vital in producing a successful and exciting display.”

Red 3 for 2020 – the Red Arrows’ 56th display season – will be Flt Lt Nick Critchell.

He joined the RAF in 2008, having attended Bramhall High School and Marple Sixth Form College, Stockport, and studying aerospace business systems at Salford University.

Red 3 for 2020 is Flight Lieutenant Nick Critchell.
Red 3 for 2020 is Flight Lieutenant Nick Critchell.

After his flying training, Flt Lt Critchell flew the Typhoon, serving on 1(F) and II(AC) Squadrons at both RAF Leuchars and RAF Lossiemouth.

He deployed to the Falkland Islands and conducted air policing operations on both UK Quick Reaction Alert and in the Baltic, as well as participating in multinational exercises overseas.

In 2016, he was posted to RAF Valley as a Qualified Flying Instructor on the Hawk T2 aircraft, before selection for the team.

Flt Lt Critchell, 33, who is a former member of Manchester and Salford Universities’ Air Squadron, said being inspired by the Red Arrows at a young age had motivated him to pursue a flying career.

He said: “Having the opportunity to represent the RAF and the wider Armed Forces at both home and abroad was a real drive to apply to the team.

“Watching and meeting the Red Arrows when I was young instilled a passion to pursue a career in the Royal Air Force, so to end up in the position to do the same to the next generation is a real honour.

Training is already underway for the new Red Arrows team for 2020.
Training is already underway for the new Red Arrows 2020 team.

“Meeting the public after a display is an aspect of the job I am most looking forward to. As the Red Arrows are a British icon with a large fanbase, I think it is important to take time to meet the people that hold the team in such high regard.”

Flt Lt Critchell said, as part of the Red Arrows, he hoped to play a role in helping to continue the work of inspiring those watching the team.

He said: “The Red Arrows epitomise the teamwork, trust and excellence that is expected of all members of the Armed Forces and I am immensely proud to be given the opportunity to display these attributes to the public to help inspire the next generation.”

Flt Lt James Turner is another new pilot for 2020, flying in the Red 4 position.

Born in Hertfordshire, he was educated at Newport Grammar School and Essex & Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge.

The 36-year-old studied computer science at Imperial College, London, where he was a member of the University of London Air Squadron.

He joined the RAF in 2006 and flew the Typhoon operationally, being with 1(F) Squadron from 2013 and initially being based at RAF Leuchars and subsequently RAF Lossiemouth.

Whilst on the frontline, Flt Lt Turner conducted various operations for the RAF, including Quick Reaction Alert in the UK and the Falkland Islands, and flew in many multinational exercises.

Flight Lieutenant James Turner will fly as Red 4.
Flight Lieutenant James Turner will fly as Red 4.

After completing this tour, Flt Lt Turner was posted to 29 Squadron, where he instructed on the Eurofighter Typhoon Operational Conversion Unit.

During his time on the Typhoon, Flt Lt Turner flew all over the world, to places as far apart as the South Atlantic, Las Vegas and Japan.

He will now operate the BAE Systems Hawk T1 with the Red Arrows – a training aircraft he is familiar with from earlier in his flying career.

Flt Lt Turner said: “With the Red Arrows, I am very excited to be able to focus on one specific area of flying and perfect it.

“In my previous flying in the RAF, the skills required are very varied, but in the Red Arrows I will have the opportunity to practice formation with the aim of flying each manoeuvre at each display to the best of my – and the team’s – abilities.

“My previous aircraft, the Eurofighter Typhoon, is an incredibly capable, modern, multi-role jet, which means that the skills you need to operate it are wide and varied.

The Red Arrows use the BAE Systems Hawk T1.
The Red Arrows use the BAE Systems Hawk T1.

“In contrast, the Hawk T1 is a relatively simple aircraft, with very few computers to aid the pilot, but it is because of this that it’s viewed as a ‘pilots’ aircraft’.

“Flying as part of the Red Arrows will be demanding but it will also be rewarding, as it will allow me to strive towards perfection in one specific area of flying – formation.”

He added: “The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team’s moto is Eclat – meaning excellence or brilliance – and this sums up perfectly what the Red Arrows stand for, with everyone involved working towards a common goal of being the best flying display team in the world.”

Flt Lt David Simmonds will fly as Red 5 in 2020. He was selected for last season but an injury sustained playing sport forced him to miss the final period of training, while he recovered, and he was unable to be part of the display team.

He is now looking to the forthcoming year, which will involve dozens of airshows and other events across the UK.

He said: “I am looking forward to the challenge of taking precision flying to the next level whilst on the public stage.

Red 5 in 2020 will be Flight Lieutenant David Simmonds.
Red 5 in 2020 will be Flight Lieutenant David Simmonds.

“The Red Arrows are renowned for their extremely high standard of formation flying and I am focussed on achieving that.”

There are nine pilots who fly in the Red Arrows’ precision displays, using the British-built Hawk T1 fast-jet.

They are selected in a thorough process, involving interviews, flying tests and peer assessments.

However, before even applying for the team, an RAF pilot must have amassed 1,500 flying hours, be classed as above average in their flying role and completed an operational tour.

A pilot will then usually spend three years with the team before returning to the frontline, instructional or staff duties.

Training for the 2020 season is underway at the Red Arrows’ home base of RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, coordinated by the Team Leader.

Pilots fly three times a day, starting with small formations of only a few aircraft before gradually building up to the team’s trademark, full nine-ship formation.

Each sortie is examined in great detail, with the aim of constantly looking for improvement.

Reds 1-11: The Red Arrows pilots.
Reds 1-11: The Red Arrows pilots.

In around April, the team moves overseas for a period of focussed training in a location with more settled weather, which is an opportunity to perfect and polish a display that will be watched by millions in 2020.

The season usually begins in late-May or early-June, with details of shows released in the New Year.

The winter period is also a busy time for for the Red Arrows’ ground staff, who number more than 100 – as they prepare for the year ahead, carry out work on the jets and plan the summer.

Going into the 2020 pre-season training phase, the pilot line-up is:

Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – Wing Commander Andrew Keith

Red 1 and Team Leader – Squadron Leader Martin Pert

Red 2 – Flight Lieutenant Will Cambridge

Red 3 – Flight Lieutenant Nick Critchell

Red 4 – Flight Lieutenant James Turner

Red 5 – Flight Lieutenant David Simmonds

Red 6 – Flight Lieutenant Jon Bond

Red 7 – Squadron Leader Gregor Ogston

Red 8 – Flight Lieutenant Damo Green

Red 9 and Executive Officer – Squadron Leader Steve Morris

Red 10 and Supervisor – Squadron Leader Adam Collins

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