Red Arrows depart for North American tour promoting UK

A huge tour of North America by the Red Arrows – aimed at promoting the United Kingdom – got underway today.

Jets from the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team took off from their base at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire, this morning, to begin the 2,658-nautical mile journey across the North Atlantic.

It signals the start of the Red Arrows’ biggest-ever tour of Canada and the United States of America.

More than 25 cities will be visited during 11 weeks, with a combination of displays, flypasts and ground events helping to support a range of UK interests across business, trade, defence, education and other sectors.

Wing Commander Andrew Keith, Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, said: “The aim of this North American tour is to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds through a world-class display of the best of British.

The Red Arrows departing RAF Scampton earlier today.
The Red Arrows departing RAF Scampton earlier today. Picture by Corporal Graham Taylor.

“Everyone in the Red Arrows team, whether air or ground crew, together with those joining us from other parts of the RAF in support of the tour, are very excited and privileged to be representing the UK in front of millions of people across Canada and the United States.

“Months of planning have gone into preparing for what will be our most significant deployment to North America and our focus is now on transiting the aircraft across the Atlantic and then performing dynamic, safe and visually-appealing shows, coast-to-coast.

Red Arrows engineers see-off the jets. Picture by SAC Ben Mayfield.
Red Arrows engineers see-off the jets. Picture by SAC Ben Mayfield.

“The visit builds on the success of other, recent overseas tours by the team, which have demonstrated the convening power of the Red Arrows and helped showcase the UK.”

The team’s BAE Systems Hawk jets began the long transit to North America this morning. Without the capability to refuel in the air, and not having the range to make the transatlantic crossing in one sortie, the journey involves stops at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, Keflavik in Iceland, Narsarsuaq in Greenland and Goose Bay, Canada.

The outbound crossing.

It is expected the crossing will take three days, with the Canadian city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, being the intended destination and first major location of the tour.

The Red Arrows’ engineers, support staff and vital equipment also left the UK today.

RAF A400M Atlas from LXX Squadron and Voyager transport aircraft, from 10 Squadron and 101 Squadron, departed RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, and RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, respectively, carrying the personnel and cargo.

Halifax will play host to the first public aerial activity of the deployment – a flypast over its waterfront on August 11.

The jets at RAF Scampton ready for departure. Picture by SAC Ben Mayfield.
The jets at RAF Scampton ahead of departure. Picture by SAC Ben Mayfield.

However, ground events will already be underway, including sessions aimed at young people and highlighting the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.

Gatineau will be the venue for the first public aerobatic display of the tour, on August 13.

The deployment will include some 20 displays, dozens of flypasts over landmarks and 100 separate ground events, spanning several major cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Chicago, St Louis, Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

A much shorter, east coast visit in 2008 was the last time the Red Arrows performed in North America.

The Red Arrows departing RAF Scampton earlier today. Picture by Corporal Graham Taylor.
Twelve Hawks left RAF Scampton this morning. Picture by Cpl Graham Taylor.

The latest, larger tour is being carried out in support of the Government’s GREAT Britain campaign – providing opportunity to enhance international trade and investment between the UK, Canada and the US, worth more than £208 billion in 2018.

It is also a chance to mark the UK’s continuing commitment to enduring relationships, mutual prosperity and extensive security cooperation with long-standing and close allies.

For more information on the Red Arrows, follow @rafredarrows on Twitter, like the team’s Facebook page at RAF Red Arrows, view pictures on Instagram @rafredarrows or visit www.raf.mod.uk/reds

Use #RedArrowsTour online to keep up-to-date with the Red Arrows’ tour of North America.e #RedArrowsTour online to keep up-to-date with the Red Arrows’ tour of North America.

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