2014 is the Red Arrows’ 50th display season, and, while no official tour will take place during it, the curtain came down on the team’s 2013 season in the Middle East, culminating with appearances at the 10th Al Ain Aerobatic Show and in Dubai for the 42nd National Day celebrations.
The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, first performed in 1965 after it was decided that too much time, effort and money was being invested in display flying across the Royal Air Force. Prior to that point virtually every Flying Training School and a number of frontline squadrons had their own teams.
The team flew the Folland Gnat from its inception until taking delivery of its first British Aerospace Hawk T1 trainers in late 1979. The Hawk is still used by the Red Arrows today.
Based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, the team is currently led by Red 1, Squadron Leader Jim Turner, a former Sepecat Jaguar GR3A pilot. It’s Jim’s second tour with the Red Arrows, having concluded his first as Synchro Leader in 2007.
The five-week long 2013 Middle East tour included displays in Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and, of course, the UAE.
Speaking after the team’s return to the UK, Squadron Leader Turner said:
“It has been a privilege to represent both the Royal Air Force and the United Kingdom on what has been a wonderful experience for every member of the team.
“Being afforded the opportunity to display in Kuwait for the first time was particularly special.
“We have displayed in front of thousands of people, often in clear blue skies and with stunning backdrops for those watching.
“This has allowed for some truly remarkable photo opportunities that have captured the team performing on a hugely successful tour and in locations where we have already been asked to return in the future.
“Throughout the tour, we have also been able to promote the very best of British and supported UK trade and industry – which is a key aim of the Red Arrows.
“The team could not have asked for a better way to sign off this year and prepare for 2014, which will be the Red Arrows’ 50th display season.”
Hopefully there’ll be lots more Red Arrows content coming your way on GAR in 2014.
Next up, the Royal Jordanian Falcons.