Update: 2020/01/20  by Robert Kysela / CHK6

Within the genre of military aerobatic display teams the famous RAF RED ARROWS of Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) hold a very special place. It’s not just because the RAF RED ARROWS have been amongst the best in the world for the past 50 years, but because they are also amongst the most hard working display teams currently flying. Since their foundation the Reds have performed more than 4,650 displays, a record still unmatched by any other aerobatic display team. The reason why the Reds are so popular at home, and not as enthusiastically followed as some other teams such as the Italian Air Force FRECCE TRICOLORI or USAF THUNDERBIRDS, has nothing to do with a lack of interest but more so to do with typical British understatement. The British people have always had a very special relationship with their air force, so it is hardly surprising that their eyes genuinely light up when the pride of the RAF take to the skies over the British Isles.  The RAF RED ARROWS were formed in 1965 as the official aerobatic display team of the Royal Air Force. Previous RAF display teams consisted of the BLACK ARROWS (Hawker HUNTER F.Mk6), the YELLOWJACKS (Folland GNAT T.Mk.1) and the RED PELICANS (Percival JET PROVOST T. Mk. 4). Forming the core of the newly formed RED ARROWS where the brightly painted yellow GNATS of the former YELLOWJACKS, a team that consisted of Flying Instructors from No 4 Flying Training School based at RAF Valley. The YELLOWJACKS had been in existence for only two years before the Reds were formed and their Folland GNATS’s repainted in the bright red and white scheme that has now become symbolic of the RAF RED ARROWS team. The Reds used the small two-seat GNAT until 1979 when it was replaced by the agile and reliable BAE HAWK T.Mk. 1a.

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