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Flying with the Red Arrows by Jamie Hunter - part 1 of 1 2 3 4 5

Published 01/02/2009

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The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, represents the very public face of the RAF and serves to demonstrate the professionalism and excellence of the Service and promote recruitment.

It also plays a vital role representing the UK around the world. Everyone has heard of the Red Arrows. When you watch one of their displays it is always polished, always executed with precision, and always very, very impressive.

Even before a display season ends, the team is preparing for the next season. Through winter and into spring the close-knit team of flying and support staff operate to a gruelling schedule flying up to four times a day.

It's not just about the pilots; the team is a squadron of 100 people who strive to represent the best that the RAF has to offer.


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Since mid-1966 there have been nine Red Arrows display pilots each year, including the team leader. Each year three new pilots join the elite nine, but to be eligible to apply for the team they must have completed at least one operational tour on a front-line fast jet and have logged a minimum of 1,500 flying hours.

Pilots must also have been assessed in their annual reports as being above average in their operational role as the usual three-year tour as a Red Arrows pilot is both physically and mentally challenging. For the pilots, it is some of the most exhilarating and skilful flying they will ever experience.

Since mid-1966 there have been nine Red Arrows display pilots each year, including the team leader. Each year three new pilots join the elite nine, but to be eligible to apply for the team they must have completed at least one operational tour on a front-line fast jet and have logged a minimum of 1,500 flying hours. Pilots must also have been assessed in their annual reports as being above average in their operational role as the usual three-year tour as a Red Arrows pilot is both physically and mentally challenging.

For the pilots, it is some of the most exhilarating and skilful flying they will ever experience.


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1st Published 01/02/2009
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