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Posted on Jul 25, 2005 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Aldershot Army Show 2005

Armchair General

THE RED DEVILS

Anyone searching on the Internet will find a plethora of organisations calling themselves "The Red Devils", so let’s start this section by clarifying whom I mean.

The Red Devils I’m referring to here are of course the British Army’s very own parachute display team, formed in 1963. Operating two display teams, they are entirely self-funded and spectacular to watch. What’s more, they were at Aldershot. And despite the murky weather, I was lucky enough to see one of their displays close-up.

With an arena forming the centrepiece of the show, large crowds gathered to view the drop whilst the ground team laid out an orange marker in the middle of the landing zone. The marker was not a "target" to be aimed for but merely an indicator of the rough area for the drop. However we were advised that many of the men would probably try to land on the marker itself.

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When all was clear, smoke projectors billowed orange fumes to show the pilot above that the ground was ready for the drop. Although non-toxic, I was glad that the wind wasn’t blowing in my direction.

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After a few tense moments, we saw the approaching plane carrying the team who would do the drop, flying at a mere 200 feet, it dipped in and out of the low cloud. After a few passes, and a wind speed check using a mini-parachute attached to a weight thrown from the rear of the plane, it eventually began to emit smoke from the rear, a sign that the drop was about to begin. And then more shapes appeared in the sky as the first batch of parachutists appeared. On this day, the weather meant that this plane would make two passes, but normally the entire group of men would be dropped at once.

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The men opened their parachutes immediately, at this height there was no freefall, the men would be on the ground within seconds of leaving the plane.

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Some of the men had flags attached to their legs, sponsors logos or…

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…some were just flying the flag.

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[continued on next page]

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