US

Red Arrows Perform Aerobatics in North America After 11 Years

By Ilene Eng

OAKLAND, Calif.—The British Royal Airforce Aerobatic team the “Red Arrows,” is one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams, They flew by the Golden Gate Bridge before landing across the bay at Oakland airport Oct. 1.

The display team consists of nine Hawk T1 jets. Accompanying them is the photographer and equipment carrier. In total, about 108 people are part of the tour, consisting of pilots, engineers, and support staff.

The Red Arrows aerobatic team from Britain’s Royal Air Force made its way to the San Francisco Bay Area and landed at the Oakland airport on Oct. 1, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)
The British Red Arrows Acrobatic squad in a flypast of the Golden Gate Bridge during its tour on Oct. 1, 2019. (MoD/Crown Copyright 2019)
The British Royal Air Force aerobatic team the Red Arrows fly over the San Francisco Bay Area during its tour on Oct. 1, 2019. (credit MoD/Crown Copyright 2019)

The pilots are all experienced active duty military pilots who applied and were selected for the team.

“We go through about five months of training each year to get up to display standard, and that’s when we then put on the red suits and display in front of the public,” said Squadron Leader Adam Collins.

Collins flew in a separate aircraft to supervise, commentate, and photograph the displays.

“We’re flying over lots of cold water over the Atlantic into Iceland, then Greenland, and then across Canada, so quite an adventure just to get the aircraft across the Atlantic,” said Collins.

The air force tours internationally every 3-5 years, but it last visited North America 11 years ago.

They put on a different performance every time.

“So this year, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, so we have one formation shape, which is called Apollo. And we’re also celebrating the 50th anniversary since the first flight of Concorde, so we fly our aircraft in the shape of the Concorde as well,” said Collins.

British Consul General Andrew Whittaker, based in the Bay Area, is hosting the tour for the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. on Oct. 1, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)

The purpose of the visit is to foster the United States and United Kingdom relationship.

“That might be for sort of a commercial opportunities, so supporting British companies that want to come and expand their business in the U.S. Or U.S. companies going to the UK. Or U.S. investors going to the UK,” said Andrew Whittaker, British Consul General.

They also hope to facilitate science, innovation, and academic relationships.

“Inspire the next generation, be it over here in North America or back home in the UK,” said Collins.

The Red Arrows Royal Air Force is close to completing its 12-week aerobatics tour, visiting a total of 25 cities across Canada and the US.

They will be flying to Los Angeles for their last displays Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 before returning to the UK.