Today we are excited to announce the brand new Red Arrows commemorative. It’s the FIRST EVER Collector’s Ingot to be officially licensed and approved by the Red Arrows and features a stunning full-colour photograph of the Red Arrows in their famous Enid formation – taken by aviation photographer James Biggadike.
In the build up to this exciting release and the 2017 Red Arrows display season Flight Lieutenant Emmet Cox, a.k.a. Red 9, gave us an exclusive interview telling us what it’s really like to be part of the world renowned Red Arrows. I revealed part one of the interview in my last blog (If you missed the first half of the interview you can read it here >>). Now, in part 2, Red 9 tells us just how hard it is to be a Red Arrows pilot…
How long does it take to prepare the display and train to public display level?
“It is a year-round job. We take a couple of weeks off after the season finishes and then it’s straight back into it. Typically, we incorporate the new pilots in small formations of three aircraft from September and, as experience grows, we add more to make it a five then a seven-aircraft formation and eventually the full nine, which normally happens late February/early March. Once the nine are together, we spend most of March and April in Greece to put the ‘polish’ on the show and take advantage of the good weather. So you can see it takes well over half the year to get the display to a standard that we are happy to show to the public.”
“Each person has their own way of preparing”
What happens if one pilot is unable to take part in the display? Do you have reserve pilots?
“We have no reserves in the Red Arrows. The positions are too specialised and it would be next to impossible for one individual to remember and perform to the level required for all the different positions. We do, however, rehearse ‘loser plots’ where minor shape or smoke alterations are carried out to cater for a missing aircraft.”
Do you have any rituals or traditions that you do before each display?
“The way we prepare for a sortie is very procedural, starting with a time check and then a briefing in a certain format. Each person is different and has their own way of preparing, such as mentally rehearsing, visualising the upcoming show or carrying points forward from the previous show.”
“The flying is incredible”
What’s the best thing about being a Red Arrow?
“The flying is incredible and there are few other places in the world where you have the opportunity to perform the aircraft in such a manner. The people are also what makes the job; to work alongside such a talented, focused group, whether it is the aircrew, engineers or support staff it makes it a thoroughly enjoyable experience.”
How does the Hawk T1 compare to other fast jets you’ve flown?
“The Hawk T1 is often referred to as the sports car of the RAF’s fast-jet inventory, its small size and simple avionics make it a real pilot’s aircraft. Compared to something like the Tornado GR4 there are few similarities – the Tornado is far bigger, carries more fuel, has more complex avionics and is more focused on weapons employment. Its stick and controls are heavier, the cockpit itself is far bigger and it is surprisingly quiet inside.”
“To put the red suit on for the first time…is a very special moment”
What has been your proudest moment as a Red Arrow?
“To put the red suit on for the first time after being awarded Public Display Authority is a very special moment. You are only a custodian of the red suit for a short time and when you put it on you realise the history and responsibility that comes with it – to represent not only the RAF and the armed forces but the UK as a whole, I could only imagine it feels similar to representing your nation in a sport.”
If you are as excited as I am to see the 2017 Red Arrows display make sure to catch them at an air show this summer. Their full display schedule can be found here >>
Let us know in the comments if you’ve already seen them this year!