The Red Arrows Team News

17 June 2017

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Personnel commended for outstanding work during overseas tour

Several engineers and support staff have been recognised for their outstanding work in delivering the Red Arrows’ largest overseas tour in a decade.

Individual and team commendations for members of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team were announced today in conjunction with the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

The awards reflect the success of the Red Arrows’ nine-week, 20,000-mile tour of the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions in late-2016, which saw the Squadron display in China for the first time in its history.

The deployment visited 17 countries and promoted the best of British industry and UK excellence across business, trade and education.

One of the teams recognised is the 2016 Circus – receiving a Deputy Commanders' Commendation (DCOM).

Circus group 2016 2


The Circus comprises individuals hand-picked from within their technical cadre who fly in the backseats of the Hawk jets with a dedicated pilot during the season and service the aircraft wherever the team is operating away from the Red Arrows’ home base of RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire.

Working to tight timescales, they are headed by a Junior Engineering Officer and a Sergeant, who is also Circus Leader, and not only include engineers but also a photographer.

2016 was an extraordinary year for the Circus, detached from base for more than six months and helping to ensure serviceable aircraft for a busy domestic season.

Circus work 2016 awards honours

Their commendation highlighted the extraordinary transit to and from China during the tour and the Circus’ supreme focus, with refuelling stops carried out in 22 overseas locations – often in extreme weather conditions or unusual circumstances.

Enduring heat stress in a hot and humid Karachi and Dhaka, the Circus performed a specialised gravity refuelling technique to ensure the 12 aircraft carried enough fuel for the extended transit routes.

This demanding physical task was executed diligently and within a time limited period of only three hours.

Being recommended for the commendation, the Circus were said to have “consistently delivered engineering excellence, often with arduous and challenging environments”.

The submission said: “Representing the Service around the world, the 2016 Circus are an exemplar of a high achieving military team.

“Their resilience in the face of adversity; their ability to deliver results in a myriad of engineering and diplomatic scenarios; and their inspirational messaging to the young people they met during the year sets them apart from their peers.

Circus work 2016 awards honours 3

“A truly exceptional year from a team of skilled, committed and motivated Service personnel.”

The team receiving the commendation comprised: Flight Lieutenant Marcus Ramsden, Sergeant Owen Watkins, Corporal Richard Bloice, Corporal Steve Buckley, Corporal Mark Caddy, Corporal Ashley Grant, Corporal David Hawes, Corporal Andrew Leonard, Corporal Robert Thatcher, SAC(T) Tom Borrill, SAC(T) Daniel Bradley, SAC(T) Phillip Broadbent and SAC(T) Samuel Williams.

Another Red Arrows engineer has also been recognised, with an Air Officer Commanding 22 (Trg) Group Commendation.

Corporal Ben Pearson

Corporal Ben Pearson, a mechanical aircraft technician, was a dye team leader during the 2016 display season – responsible for one of the small groups of engineers who replenish the famous coloured smoke on the Red Arrows aircraft.

As well as the UK season, Corporal Pearson led a team of five technicians for the global tour.

His actions ensured critical timescales for new dye were not jeopardised, despite often operating in insolation thousands of miles away without immediate support – showing excellent communication and leadership skills.

In being recommended for the commendation, Corporal Pearson is praised for his “constant enthusiasm”.

It said: “His professionalism contributed directly to the success of the tour, ultimately ensuring the red, white and blue of the Royal Air Force and Red Arrows left a lasting impression in Asia-Pacific and Middle East”.

Receiving an Air Officer Commanding 22 (Trg) Group Commendation is Sergeant Michael Moran, who works as part of the Red Arrows’ administration team.

Sergeant Mick Moran

During the overseas tour, he was on call 24/7 for 61 days, playing a pivotal role in the construction and delivery of the highly-complex personnel movement plan.

This involved booking accommodation and flights, as well as handling 16 different types of foreign currency for more than 100 people – together with liaising with colleagues elsewhere in the RAF, British Embassies and High Commissions.

The commendation is said to reflect Sergeant Moran’s “personal application, attention to detail and focus whilst in a maelstrom of activity and competing priorities”, which “was outstanding and contributed significantly to the overall level of individual and team preparation for the exercise”.

Two of the Squadron’s flight operations assistants are also recognised with an Air Officer Commanding 22 (Trg) Group Team Commendation.

Sue Rettie Steve Dilley

Corporals Steve Dilley and Sue Rettie carried out a range of tasks, including booking the Red Arrows’ jets into airfields, applying for diplomatic clearances when operating overseas and filing flight plans.

Based in the UK, they were heavily involved in the planning and coordination of more than 40 transit flights and several displays for the Middle East and Asia-Pacific tour.

Often working unsupervised during long, nocturnal shift patterns, they were instrumental in maintaining the timely onward movement of the team and were recommended for the commendation for a “sustained, outstanding, professional performance”.

Wing Commander Martin Higgins, Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT), said: “I was delighted to hear that our engineers and support staff have been recognised for their extraordinary teamwork and unwavering commitment.

“Without the relentless dedication of the 20 or so roles on the RAFAT, it would not be possible to deliver Red Arrows displays and flypasts in the UK and overseas.

“The commendations also reflect the incredible support of the recipients’ family and friends who enable our team to remain so focused on their duties.”

Officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows showcase the excellence of the RAF and represent the United Kingdom both at home and overseas.

The team consists of 11 pilots, nine of whom fly in the display, and more than 100 support personnel and technicians.

Each of the pilots has previous fast-jet, operational experience flying the Tornado or the Typhoon, enabling the RAF to secure the skies and protect the nation and its interests, 365-days a year.

One of the world’s premier aerobatic teams, the Red Arrows had completed 4,800 displays, in 57 countries, by the end of 2016. Flying Hawk T1 jets, the team is based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

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