The Red Arrows, the aerobatics team of the Royal Air Force, was formed in late 1964 and consists of nine BAE Hawk T1A aircrafts, the RAF’s advanced jet trainer. Frontline fighter jets are not used owing to the operational costs.
By the end of 2009, the Red Arrows had performed a total of 4,269 displays in 53 countries. Their 4,000th display, and one that I personally witnessed, was at RAF Leuchars, Scotland during the Battle of Britain Airshow in the September of 2006.
As mentioned earlier, The Reds are usually a nine aircraft team but only eight planes can be seen in these images and this is due to the tragic demise of one of their pilots, Flt Lt Jon Egging. Flt Lt Jon Egging’s Hawk T1A aircraft crashed near Bournemouth Airport. These images were captured during the Airshow at RAF Leuchars in the September of 2011, less than a month after this incident.
The loss of a fellow pilot and a team member would certainly have taken an immense emotional toll on the entire team and uncertainty loomed over whether they would perform at RAF Leuchars but they did and the sense of respect for the Red Arrows was palpable in the air when they performed. And their performance, as always, was true to their motto – Éclat meaning “excellence”.
The images themselves were captured free hand without the use of a tripod. A Sigma 50 – 500mm lens mounted on a Canon 50D was used to capture these images. Owing to the speed of the subjects being photographed, using a tripod would not have been the best method of capturing these shots.
My main aim of capturing and showcasing these images is that they act as a tribute to the pilots, past and present, of the Red Arrows also referred to as The Reds.