The Red Arrows Team News

19 May 2017

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2017 9 ship leading outTHE Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, left the United Kingdom to complete pre-season training overseas.

The 11 aircraft departed RAF Scampton, the Squadron’s base in Lincolnshire, on 27 April.

After refuelling stops in mainland France and Spain, the team stopped overnight in Italy before flying to Tanagra, Greece..

The Hellenic Air Force base has been home for the last three weeks, as the Squadron completes final training ahead of the busy 2017 summer schedule – the team’s 53rd display season.

One of the world’s premier aerobatic teams, the Red Arrows showcase the excellence of the Royal Air Force and represent the UK at home and overseas.

The overseas element of the Red Arrows’ pre-season training is known as Exercise Springhawk and allows the team to perfect its aerial display, which will be seen by more than 10 million people this summer.

Squadron Leader David Montenegro, who flies as Red 1 and is the Team Leader, said: “We are again based at HAF Tanagra and we are immensely grateful to our hosts and, of course, the local Greek community.

2017 Springhawk Arrival“It is an important part of the team’s training year and we have very much valued coming to Tanagra for our overseas training through each of the last three years.

“Tanagra affords us fantastic different display sites that give us the opportunity to consistently practice the formations and manoeuvres for this year’s display.

“The location affords us to fly in good weather and really get the show as polished as it needs to be.

“Just as crucial, the focus that Springhawk provides allows us to gel as a whole team of pilots, engineers and support staff to present the best display possible during the coming season.”

It hasn't just been about the pilots perfecting their display, the Circus engineers have also been polishing their famous see-off teamwork which is seen at various events throughout the display season.

The Squadron has sparked interest from the local community and also several schools and organisations while they have been based in Greece. More than 100 schoolchildren have visited them on the HAF air base and been amazed to see the practices and meet the pilots and engineers involved.

2017 Springhawk nine shipMoving training abroad provides the Squadron with more guaranteed, consistent weather in which to fly – completing up to 15 practice sorties a week.

While at Tanagra, the Red Arrows have been carrying out their full, rolling and flat displays at different locations known as datums. Each of these is planned and designed to capture each event’s landscape for the forthcoming season.

The team received a very special visitor last week as Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic, Ms Kate Smith CMG, paid a visit. She spoke with the pilots and had a guided tour around the aircraft from the Commandant of the Central Flying School, RAF College Cranwell.

While the team carry out their training here, they are also looking to 2018 and welcomed the candidates who are looking to join the team for next year.

Known as Shortlist Candidates, eight experienced Royal Air Force pilots from various fast jet squadrons joined the Exercise and took part in a fast-paced week of flying tests and formal interviews.

In two weeks time, senior RAF officers will assess the whole team and, if content with the performance, will consider granting Public Display Authority – formally signalling the start of this year’s display season.

All Red Arrows pilots are from frontline squadrons and, before joining the team, operated jets such as the Tornado or the Typhoon – helping the Royal Air Force to secure the skies and protect the UK and its interests at all hours, 365 days a year.

This year, training for the new season began in January at the Red Arrows’ home base. The team had recently returned from a global tour of the Middle and Far East, notably displaying for the first time in China.

In keeping with other Royal Air Force units, a huge team effort is required to allow the Red Arrows to carry out winter training both in the UK and overseas.

As well as the 11 aircraft and pilots, more than 50 personnel, from flight operations staff and engineering technicians to administrators and suppliers, are taking part in Exercise Springhawk.

The Red Arrows are expected to return to the UK in June, with the first public display of 2017 at Torbay. It is one of more than 60 shows planned this year for the team.

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