When I got back to the car the traffic had moved about 20 yards but I had stocked up on water and chocolate so my significant other cheered up a bit. Half an hour later the traffic started moving for now apparent reason what-so-ever! There was no sign as to why the traffic had stopped for so long. I hate that. While we were sat in the traffic we were listening to Wings FM which was giving a commentary of what we were missing. I was very annoyed to have missed the B1B, the Apache and the Blue Eagles flying. Still, when we arrived we were treated to an absolutely awesome display by Typhoon.
RIAT is the world's largest military airshow, held annually over the third weekend in July, usually in support of The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust. I saw many aircraft and the flying displays were excellent. I was particularly pleased to find the Red Arrows there. When I was a child I lived near to where they were stationed at that time and remember often seeing them fly over as they practised their aerobatic flying. I loved watching them then and that feeling has never left me. The skill of these pilots is incredible!
The Red Arrows are officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team. They were formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, replacing a number of unofficial teams that had been sponsored by various RAF commands. The team uses the BAE Hawk trainer plane, which is highly maneuverable. All of the photo's on this post are of the Red Arrows (except the first) but photo's do not do them justice. As I have a dSLR I cannot take video footage, so I have put in a video at the end to give you an idea of what they do.
Since 1966, there have been nine display pilots and each is a volunteer. Pilots must have completed one or more operational tours on a fast jet and have accumulated at least 1,500 flying hours to be eligible. Even then, there are more than ten applicants for each place on the team. Pilots stay with the Red Arrows for a three-year tour of duty with three pilots being changed every year. If one of the pilots is not able to fly the team flies an eight-plane formation but if the Team Leader, 'Red 1', is unable to fly then the team do not display at all. Each pilot always flies the same position in a formation and the pilots spend six months from October to April practising for the coming display season. During an aerobatics display, Red Arrows pilots regularly experience forces up to five times that of gravity.
In July 2004 there was speculation that the Red Arrows would be disbanded after a defence spending review due to running costs of between £15 million and £20 million. Thank goodness, the Arrows were not disbanded and the expense has been justified through their PR value and because they act as a recruitment mechanism for the RAF. According to the BBC it is highly unlikely that the Red Arrows will be disbanded, as they are a considerable attraction throughout the world and this was reiterated by Tony Blair in 2007. I really hope they don't get disbanded as they are now part of the British institution in many ways. I would also hate to think that other children won't get the pleasure I did seeing them as a child.