Red Arrows News

2023 season: Display dates and new pilots announced

Locations where people can see the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team perform this summer are being released today.

Millions of individuals are expected to enjoy UK airshows and other events where the Red Arrows will carry out a dynamic, precision display.

It is anticipated the team’s new season will get underway in late-May, with dozens of invitations from organisers to perform at venues through until September.

Wing Commander Adam Collins, Officer Commanding of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, said: “I know many people, including countless families, are already eager to plan which of these events they’ll be going to and we can’t wait to entertain and inspire those watching.

“The 2023 season is one of the busiest in recent years and each show is a great opportunity for the Red Arrows to perform a new display that represents the speed, agility and innovation of the RAF.”

Bournemouth Air Festival, which attracts more than one million visitors, is one of the locations where people can see the Red Arrows in 2023.
Bournemouth Air Festival, which attracts more than one million visitors, is one of the locations where people can see the Red Arrows in 2023.

The list of 2023 shows comprises dates of aerobatic displays – rather than flypasts – in the UK, with several other locations, including overseas venues, yet-to-be confirmed and added.  

The Red Arrows’ 59th season features a range of events, including an appearance at the Armed Forces’ Day National Event, which is being staged in Falmouth, Cornwall, on June 24.

Three brand new pilots are joining the Red Arrows this year. They succeed Squadron Leaders Jon Bond and Gregor Ogston, whose very successful time with the team came to a scheduled end in December, on return from the unit's five-week high-performing tour to the Gulf and Egypt, which supported a range of UK interests.

For 2023, the team will be flying major flypasts with nine aircraft while aerobatic displays will be carried out using an eight-jet formation. 

Details about the reason for this – around safety and supervision – were also given today by Wing Commander Collins in a social media video, shared via the RAF and Red Arrows’ channels, and providing an insight and update on the new team’s training and preparations for the season ahead.

The Officer Commanding said: “The decision to fly an eight-ship is a significant step after a challenging period.

We have a clear intent of returning to nine aircraft for displays in 2024 and beyond.

“In the meantime, our entire team of over 140 dedicated personnel is working hard, together, to plan, prepare and perform a new dynamic display routine that will be seen and enjoyed by millions of people.

“I look forward to giving you more updates on this activity, as we intensify our pre-season training and can’t wait to see you at brilliant events in 2023.”

Among those joining the Red Arrows for the 2023 season is Flight Lieutenant Richard Walker, who will fly in the Red 2 position.

Born in Oxford, the former Manchester University student flew the Harrier earlier in his RAF career and more recently the Typhoon on NATO Air Policing missions.

New pilots for 2023
Flight Lieutenants Rich Walker, Tom Hansford and Ollie Suckling join the team for 2023 and will fly as Reds 2-4 respectively.

He said: “Seeing the Red Arrows display is one of my earliest memories of deciding I needed to fly and join the RAF.

“After a varied and challenging operational and training career, I wanted to take the opportunity to fly probably the most demanding military pure flying discipline and hopefully inspire other young people to consider a future in the RAF.

“I am really excited to showcase the RAF and the UK’s skills and capabilities to large audiences at home and abroad, working as part of small, highly-motivated team.”

Flying in the Red 3 position for 2023 is another brand new team pilot – Flight Lieutenant Tom Hansford, who was born in Inverness and grew up in Aberdeenshire.

The Red Arrows alongside an RAF Typhoon - the type of aircraft flown by Flt Lt Hansford on the frontline.
The Red Arrows alongside an RAF Typhoon - the type of aircraft flown by Flt Lt Hansford on the frontline.

After graduating from Oxford University, he joined the RAF in 2008 and has flown the Typhoon operationally and, as a qualified weapons instructor, taught tactics to the next generation of pilots.

He said: “I look forward to representing the team, the Royal Air Force and United Kingdom around the world, both inside and outside of the cockpit.

“The formation display flying will be exciting and rewarding and the nature of Red Arrows deployments in the Hawk T1 will involve many stops in places that are new to me.

“As a team pilot, the opportunity to meet and engage with a wide variety of different and inspiring people will be fantastic.

Training is underway for the 2023 display season.
Training is underway for the 2023 display season.

“All of this is only possible as part of a strong team involving many different ranks, trades and specialisations and I look forward to playing my part in this.”

York-born Flight Lieutenant Ollie Suckling is the third new pilot and will be Red 4 this year.

Ollie studied physical geography at Hull University and joined the RAF in 2007, flying the Tornado GR4 during several overseas tours in support of coalition operations, including in Afghanistan, as well as multinational exercises worldwide.

He said: “Having been interested in aviation since a very early age I spent my childhood going to museums and airshows and met the Red Arrows on occasion, which only fuelled my interest in the RAF.

I am looking forward to meeting people attending events on-the-ground and hope I can provide the same encouragement and inspiration that I received when I was young, which has been the cornerstone of me being where I am today.

“Obviously, the flying of the display is going to be amazing but I think being able to give something back will be the greatest reward of all.”

Pre-season training – requiring demanding work by both the air and ground crews – is now being carried out by the team ahead of the new campaign.

This, initially, is focussed on flying from RAF Waddington, the Red Arrows’ Lincolnshire base.

The Red Arrows at RAF Waddington.
The Red Arrows at RAF Waddington.

The process involves the updated 2023 aerobatic display being gradually developed before final assessment, known as Pubic Display Authority, by senior officers.

Squadron Leader Tom Bould, Team Leader and Red 1, choreographs the show and coordinates the training programme.

He said: “It will be great to bring the latest display to dozens of locations this summer, many of which attract hundreds of thousands of people – which we’re always thrilled and humbled to see.

I’m hoping we get to meet many of these families and young people at the events, especially at some of those which feature the ever-popular RAF Experience areas on-the-ground, where visitors can learn more about the Service.

“Knowing there is this outstanding interest is a massive motivation for everyone in our new team and demonstrates the unrivalled, fantastic platform provided by airshows and similar events to bring communities together, support local economies and – above all else – be a source of inspiration through aviation."

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