Flying a more dynamic, updated display, a new season of events is getting underway for the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.
Millions of people attending these shows can enjoy a combination of crowd-favourite Red Arrows manoeuvres and large, precision shapes added into the routine – where the jets fly in tight, close formation.
The team’s 2023 season includes more than 60 displays at locations at home and overseas. It follows the Red Arrows being granted Public Display Authority (PDA) – a thorough, detailed assessment that concludes a training phase.
Squadron Leader Tom Bould, who is Red 1 and in his third year as Team Leader, said it was particularly satisfying to gain this validation given a much-reduced timescale to prepare for 2023.
He said: “I’m immensely proud to attain Public Display Authority with fantastic teamwork seen in every area of the Red Arrows.
“It’s especially pleasing to achieve this feat in a shortened work-up period – the team usually has longer to train but only concluded its 2022 season in December, due to our return from a very successful tour to the Gulf and Egypt.
We’ve been very focused, however, on building an innovative display that I hope people will enjoy watching as much as we feel honoured and humbled to perform every single time we take to the air.
People watching the team at events in 2023 will spot the Wall arrival, with an arena-filling Union flag-coloured spectacle to announce the start of the display.
In patriotic tribute to the Coronation – where the Red Arrows were seen by a huge, global television audience carrying out a flypast over London – the front section of the team is performing a vertical break during the second half of the show, with red white and blue smoke trails.
There is the Team Leader’s personal favourite too – the Infinity Break, where Red 1 rolls twice around four other aircraft, to form an infinity symbol, before these jets break to conclude the display.
Squadron Leader Bould said: “What has not changed, however, this year is a focus on inspiring individuals of all ages and backgrounds with this display of teamwork.
“Indeed, creating a safe, visually-appealing and world-class demonstration takes detailed planning, dedicated preparation and a pursuit of excellence by all involved – hallmarks found across the Royal Air Force.”
The Red Arrows’ first show is at the Midlands Air Festival on June 2 and the last one of 2023 is in October.
Squadron Leader Bould – a former RAF Typhoon pilot – said the team was excited to support dozens of events in the Red Arrows’ 59th season.
He said: “Irrespective of the location, these events bring together individuals of all ages and backgrounds and are among the most important and valuable dates in a community’s calendar.
“For families, an airshow is an experience shared by generations, with each remembering when they first attended an event and the wonder, sights and sounds of flying.
“The events often provide many young people with their first taste of aviation – and a chance to start thinking about a future career. Our team members are testimony to where those early dreams can lead.
“While some may be enthused to become a pilot, others will be passionate about engineering or one of the countless support roles that power aviation globally.”
The award of PDA involves detailed scrutiny of the team’s output in-the-air and on-the-ground.
It comes after winter training in the UK, basing out of the team’s home of RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, and a period overseas, known as Exercise Springhawk.
This five-week deployment, staged in Croatia and Greece, is where the team perfects and polishes its display and flies up to three-times-a-day – making full use of more settled weather conditions.
PDA follows a thorough assessment by a senior RAF officer. The Royal Air Force’s Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group, Air Vice-Marshal Mark Flewin CBE MA BEng RAF, examined all aspects of the team.
Following this approval, the pilots changed from their green coveralls, used during training, into their more well-known red flying suits, which are worn during the display season.
The ground crew, who number more than 110 and include engineers and support staff, also changed their coveralls following PDA, into their royal blue flying suits, giving them their collective name – ‘the Blues’.
A list of 2023 events, where people can see the Red Arrows display, is available on the team’s website.
In addition to these dates, people can enjoy a ground and online engagement programme, often working with schools and cadet groups to promote themes including leadership, teamwork and the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths.
For more information on the Red Arrows, follow @rafredarrows on Twitter, like the team’s Facebook page at RAF Red Arrows, view pictures on Instagram @rafredarrows or visit www.raf.mod.uk/reds