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Posted on Jul 26, 2006 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Farnborough International Airshow 2006

Armchair General

I may have mentioned this before, but I never tire of seeing the RAF Red Arrows formation display team. Their displays are just as exciting no matter how many times you’ve seen them, and they were on form this time as well – despite the sudden and violent thunderstorm that broke out just as they made their second pass! One moment, we had clear skies, the next, just as the team was thundering overhead, Mother Nature answered with her own roar and a flash of lightning lit up the sky.

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But did the Red Arrows care about the weather and the downpour? Not a bit of it, they carried on regardless. Whilst we all got wet…

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With a display lasting about 15 minutes, the crowd was rapt with attention.

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The Red Arrows were initially formed in 1964, and from 1966 they have flown with nine pilots. Each pilot always flies in the same position within the formation, and the team spends 6 months of the year practising. Team members serve a three year tour of duty in the group, and three new applicants are accepted per year, so there are always three pilots in their first year, three in their second and three in their third. A tenth pilot acts as road manager and safety officer and ensures that there is a tenth plane available for use if one is out of commission.

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Here you can see the characteristic smoke trails of red, white and blue.

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These pictures really don’t do justice to the actual display, here, for example, one pilot flies inverted amongst three others, the speed and accuracy of their grouping has to be seen to be believed.

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