What time is the coronation flypast? Red Arrows and aircraft involved - start time and has it been cancelled?

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Red Arrows will feature in a flypast to mark the coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla

The military flypast over Buckingham Palace to mark the coronation of the King and Queen has been scaled down because of the weather and will now be formed of helicopters and The Red Arrows, the Ministry of Defence has said.

It had been feared in recent days that due to the latest forecast it could be axed. The head of the RAF said earlier in the week that there was a "50/50" chance it would be cancelled.

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Sailors, soldiers, and aviators from across the UK and the breadth of the Commonwealth acompanied Charles and Camilla to and from Westminster Abbey. Later in the day, military personnel will conduct a six-minute flypast of more than 60 aircraft from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force – flying over The Mall in central London.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace noted the operation will be “spectacular”, saying: “We can be enormously proud of the professionalism and precision of our armed forces as they honour His Majesty, their new commander-in-chief. From the procession on The Mall, to the flypast over London, with gun salutes at sea and across the country, it will be a spectacular and fitting tribute and a privilege to take part in for all those involved and watching from afar.”

When will the flypast be?

The RAF flypast will take place on Saturday, 6 May. It will take place later in the day following the coronation at Westminster Abbey.

The King and Queen Consort will appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with other members of the royal family to watch the six-minute flypast at around 2.30pm.

It will be scaled down.

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Red Arrows perform flypast over The Mall in London. Picture: Ministry of Defence via Getty ImagesRed Arrows perform flypast over The Mall in London. Picture: Ministry of Defence via Getty Images
Red Arrows perform flypast over The Mall in London. Picture: Ministry of Defence via Getty Images | MoD via Getty Images

Could it be cancelled?

The military flypast will go ahead - but it has been scaled down due to the adverse weather.

Earlier int he week, Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston has said “it’s 50/50” as to whether the event will go ahead, and the final decision will be made just one or two hours before it is due to start. Forecasters expect conditions in London to be cloudy and wet on Saturday, which could hamper the ability of pilots to fly safely.

Sir Michael said: “The weather isn’t looking brilliant, but there’s nothing we can do about it. We have to be safe, we have to make sure that we aren’t taking any unnecessary risks.

“We’ll make a weather call one or two hours before the actual moment, but if there’s rain and low cloud then it will be almost impossible to get it through. It’s 50/50 at the moment, but we have lots of options, the decision will be made, at this stage we’re hoping for the best.”

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A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson added: "The latest weather information will be obtained from both the Met Office and from our helicopters performing weather checks in advance of the main flypast on Saturday. If suitable, the flypast will continue as planned. If not, then there are options available to reduce the numbers of aircraft, with cancellation being the last resort.”

In an update on Saturday afternoon, the RAF’s official account wrote: “For the #Coronation of Their Majesties The King and Queen, the UK Armed Forces will conduct a flypast over Buckingham Palace, subject to weather, serviceability, & operational commitments.”

Which aircraft will take part?

The MoD has said that just the Red Arrows and helicopters will take part in the flypast now due to the weather conditions.

Which aircraft were due to feature in the flypast?

It was also due to include the historic Spitfires of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the RAF’s brand-new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, Joint RAF and RN crewed state-of-the art F-35B Lightning II jets and transport aircraft from the RAF’s Air Mobility Force. It will feature the first flypast involvement of the RAF’s new Envoy IV CC1 aircraft.

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Will the Red Arrows be involved?

Yes, the famous Red Arrows will be taking part in the flypast.

What is a flypast?

According to the Cambridge dictionary, it is: “an occasion when a group of aircraft flies in a special pattern as a part of a ceremony.” Flypasts are often tied in with Royal or state events, anniversaries, celebrations - and occasionally funerary or memorial occasions.

It is the same as a flyover, which is the term used in the United States.

What restrictions are in place?

Flight restrictions are to be imposed across parts of the South East and East Anglia due to the coronation flypast. A notice to pilots published online said Transport Secretary Mark Harper has decided to ban aircraft from flying below various altitudes in certain areas on the afternoon of 6 May.

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The PA news agency understands this will have an impact on light aircraft pilots and drone users, but not commercial flights. That is in contrast with the day of the late Queen’s funeral, when more than 100 Heathrow Airport flights were cancelled to prevent aircraft noise disturbing proceedings at Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle.

Restrictions on aircraft not taking part will be in place in airspace above parts of London, East Anglia and the North Sea at various times from 12.15pm until 2pm.

Who flies the Red Arrows?

Since 1996, the Red Arrows team has been made up of nine display pilots, all of which are volunteers. The pilots complete a three-year tour with the Red Arrows and then return to other roles in the RAF.

The team is made up of three first-year pilots, three second-year pilots and three third-year pilots.

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