What do Red Arrows pilots do when they are not taking part in displays?

PUBLISHED: 13:28 12 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:08 12 June 2018

The view from the cockpit of a Hawk TMK1 of the Red Arrows, as they prepare to flypast over RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus.    Picture Cpl Alex Scott

The view from the cockpit of a Hawk TMK1 of the Red Arrows, as they prepare to flypast over RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. Picture Cpl Alex Scott

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One of the greatest aerial spectacles of the modern world, the smoke-trailing Red Arrows’ high speed precision flying has made them stars around the globe.


Red Arrows preparing to take off from RAF Marham.  Photo Emma Royal. Red Arrows preparing to take off from RAF Marham. Photo Emma Royal

Bringing the wow factor to air shows and events with their famous high-speed head to head passes, trademark Diamond Nine shape and innovative formations, they are the well-known and much-loved public face of the RAF.

The team, which has been using Hawk jets since 1980, has been operating for more than 50 years, flying nearly 5,000 displays in 57 countries.

This year, the Red Arrows’ 54th season, coincides with the RAF’s centenary.

The Great Yarmouth Air Show brochure is now available to buyThe Great Yarmouth Air Show brochure is now available to buy

The Team

Flying their distinctive Hawk fast-jets, the team of pilots, engineers and essential support staff with frontline, operational experience represent the speed, agility and precision of the Royal Air Force.

They assist in recruiting to the Armed Forces, act as ambassadors for the United Kingdom at home and overseas and promote the very best of British.

The Aircraft

The Hawk T1 trainer, powered by a Rolls-Royce engine, has been used by the Red Arrows since 1980 when it replaced the Folland Gnat.

100 Squadron, based at RAF Leeming, flies the Hawk T Mk1 in the “aggressor” role, simulating enemy forces and providing essential training to the RAF front-line units.

The Squadron also carries out close air support training to British Army units, defence engagement tasks and participates in numerous overseas exercises throughout the year. The Hawk T1 is capable of carrying out a war role armed with underwing Sidewinder missiles.

In the hands of the Red Arrows aerobatics team, the distinctive red aircraft reach speeds of up to 600mph, with the Synchro Pair closing in on each other at 850mph in a series of formation and opposition manoeuvres.

It means non-stop absolute concentration from the nine display pilots to ensure each other’s safety and the safety of the public.

Physically and mentally demanding, Red Arrows pilots experience forces during an aerobatics display of up to five times that of gravity, and when performing the aerobatic manoeuvre “Vixen Break”, forces up to 7G.

The Red Arrows’ trademark red, white and blue smoke is created by injecting dye and diesel into the hot jet exhaust which vaporises at temperatures of 400C plus. Each aircraft has enough diesel and “dye” to produce five minutes of normal white smoke and one minute each of red or blue.

The team displays around the world, delighting crowds in nearly 60 countries. One of the more famous tours was the 2016 Asia-Pacific and Middle East Tour, a nine-week, 20,000-mile deployment visiting 17 countries. They drew a global audience of a billion people, and completed the team’s first display in China.

If children watching the Great Yarmouth display are enthused – let them know that many of the pilots and other members of the Squadron joined the Royal Air Force as a direct result of seeing the Red Arrows perform as children.

The programmes for the Haven Great Yarmouth Air Show brochures are now out and can be picked up for just £5 from the EDP office at Prospect House in Norwich and the Great Yarmouth Mercury and Lowestoft Journal EDP offices. You can order the brochure online by visiting

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