The Reds

The Reds' year

Busy 365


The Red Arrows are not just busy during the summer season. The Squadron is hard at work throughout the year. Training begins at the team’s base, RAF Scampton, almost as soon as the last summer display is completed. To mark the transition, all Squadron members revert to wearing green flying suits and coveralls. Each pilot flies three sorties a day, five days a week to train. The process starts with small formations of three or four aircraft as the new pilots learn flying references and formations. During the winter, the aircraft also get an extensive overhaul by the engineers. Each jet takes between four and 16 weeks to complete. Before Christmas, the team takes part in a number of public relations activities such as visiting hospitals and delivering evening talks and presentations.


The Circus engineers selected to fly with the team are subjected to medical tests and emergency simulations. The display sequence is designed by the pilots and the team will aim to fly its first nine-ship formation in March. All of the equipment required for the team’s annual spring training detachment to Greece or Cyprus is packed and sent ahead. The display programme is agreed, accommodation is booked and travel arrangements made.


The team moves overseas, to perfect their display in the better weather conditions of Greece or Cyprus. This is known as Exercise Springhawk. Shortlist week also takes place here – where pilots hoping to get a place on the team are assessed. The training season ends in May when the Red Arrows’ Air Officer Commanding makes an assessment of their safety and professionalism. If he is content, Public Display Authority is awarded – permission to display in front of the public. The pilots, engineers and support staff are now allowed to wear their red and blue flying suits.


During the display season, the Red Arrows will perform between 75-85 displays and more than 100 flypasts at a variety of events. Often the team will appear at two events in one day, sometimes in different parts of the country. The engineers work hard to ensure all the jets are ready for each display and transit. And the dye teams, public relations team, drivers and suppliers need to be in the right place, at the right time. Planning by the Team Manager and administration team is vital. Following the domestic season, the Red Arrows are occasionally deployed overseas during this period, to support national interests, promote industry and trade as well as representing the UK on a global stage. Finally, after the last display of the season, there is a formal dinner to say goodbye to members who are leaving. Preparations for next year then begin, all over again.

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