The Red Arrows Team News

13 July 2017

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United States Air Force Thunderbird pilots flown by Red Arrows

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, have flown their American counterparts in a rare meeting between the two sets of display pilots.

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Officers from the United States Air Force (USAF) Thunderbirds joined a practice display carried out by the UK team at RAF Fairford, which hosts the 2017 Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) this weekend.

The event will mark the 70thanniversary of the USAF, with the Thunderbirds performing at the show.

Pilots from the American team flew in the back seats of the Red Arrows’ aircraft as passengers during a practice sortie at the airfield.

It was a chance for the officers to exchange experiences of flying, with both teams operating fast-jet aircraft, Red Arrows Hawk T1 and Thunderbirds F-16C .

Squadron Leader David Montenegro, Red 1 and Team Leader said “We are very excited to be showcasing the best of British once again at the RIAT event and the chance to partner up with fellow skilled pilots, who are at the top of their game, is a fantastic opportunity.

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“This is one of our favourite display sites and gives us the chance to meet public, industry and also other air forces such as the USAF Thunderbirds, with whom we enjoy successful partnerships.”

Over this weekend it is expected that tens of thousands of people, including military officers, business leaders and families, will watch the display teams carry out their display.

“The last time the teams met was at RIAT in 2007, having flown together at Quebec City airshow in 2008 when the city celebrated its 400thanniversary.

“Both teams pride themselves in their precision and professionalism and are ambassadors worldwide for their respective air forces and countries.”

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Commander and Leader of the USAF Thunderbirds, Lieutenant Colonel Jason Heard, said: "The Thunderbirds are honored to fly at RIAT this year. We are proud to represent the United States Air Force and one of the world's greatest partnerships that protects our freedoms."

"As the Air Force celebrates its 70th year as a service, this show highlights our strong ties with NATO, Europe and our worldwide allies."Not only will the teams be flying together this weekend but a joint public meet-and-greet session is planned for Saturday at RIAT, where all the Red Arrows and USAF Thunderbird officers will be located at the Red Arrows PR stand ready to say hello to those visiting the airshow.

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.

For more information about the team, follow @rafredarrows on Twitter, see the latest images posted on Instagram by following rafredarrows, like RAF Red Arrows on Facebook or visit

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