Red Arrows: what is a flypast, which RAF aircrafts are used, how fast are the jets and how many fly together?

Red Arrows will perform as part of the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games

The Red Arrows are some of the most iconic planes in the world.

The famous RAF jets have performed far and wide across the UK and the globe.

But how much do you actually know about the Red Arrows?

Here is all you need to know:

What is a flypast?

The Red Arrows will often perform flypasts as well as displays.

But what actually does that mean?

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.

When was the Red Arrows founded and what do they do?

The official name for the Red Arrows is the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team - however the nickname comes from the colour of the jets used.

It is the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force.

The team was founded in late 1964 and replaced the unofficial display teams operating at that time.

Fast forward nearly 60 years and the Red Arrows are one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams.

How many Red Arrows fly together?

The Red Arrows have been performing as a seven plane strong team at displays in 2022, however there was a full team of nine for the Jubilee.

How fast do the Red Arrows go?

The Red Arrows have a maximum speed of 645 mph.

Where are the Red Arrows based?

The Red Arrows are currently based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

They first moved to the base in 1983, but in 1995 due to the mothballing of RAF Scampton the jets moved to RAF Cranwell, around 20 miles away.

The Red Arrows returned to RAF Scampton in 2000 when the base was reopened.

However RAF Scampton is set to be closed - it was announced in 2018 by the Ministry of Defence that the base would be closing, with a closure date of 2022 set.

When the base does shut, the Red Arrows will move to RAF Waddington - remaining in Lincolnshire.

Red Arrows. (Photo by HENNING BAGGER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)Red Arrows. (Photo by HENNING BAGGER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)
Red Arrows. (Photo by HENNING BAGGER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)

What planes are the Red Arrows?

The Red Arrows themselves are distinctive Hawk fast-jets - the BAE Systems Hawk T1.

It is the same jets used for for advanced pilot training and they have two seats.

The jets are modified to enable the aircraft to produce the distinctive red, white and blue smoke that is associated with the Red Arrows.

Originally the Folland Gnat was used for the display team but were replaced with the Hawk jets in 1978.

Who is allowed to fly 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.

In order to be eligible to volunteer for the Red Arrows, pilots must have completed one or more operational tour, flying fast-jets like the Tornado, Harrier, or Typhoon.

Kirsty Murphy became the first female Red Arrows pilot in 2009.

Who are the ‘Blues’?

The Red Arrows are supported by a team of 85 engineers, who are known as the “Blues”.

It consists of members drawn from various technical and support trades in the RAF.