CONGRATULATIONS are in order for The Red Arrows as they celebrate their 50th display anniversary.
The RAF aerobatic team’s display season this year will include a number of events to mark the occasion.
Performing at special anniversary events such as RAF Waddington International Air Show, the world renowned display team have been given their own special Red Arrows Pit Day at this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo in Fairford.
Starting out at RAF Little Rissington in 1965, the team relocated to Kemble Airfield in 1968, often referred to as their spiritual home.
In 1983 the decision was made to move to RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire which saddened supporters all across the Cotswolds.
The last flight from Kemble in 1983
The celebrations throughout the year will reflect how the Red Arrows remain the public face of the RAF, showcasing the values and expertise of the air force.
Eager to join the half-century celebrations was one of the first Reds pilots, Squadron Leader Henry Prince.
The 80-year-old from Norfolk travelled to the base almost 50 years after working as a pilot there himself, to be part of the festivities.
“The Red Arrow aeroplanes are bigger now and they are very good,” he said. “They have kept to tradition.”
“The airfield is obviously different though. We moved in when the Americans moved out and here we are 49 years later and the Americans are back.”
Sqn Ldr Prince proved he was firm friends with all the current Reds pilots but said he would never dream of giving them advice.
“The current team have built upon the Red Arrows tradition wonderfully,” he said.
Current Sqn Ldr Jim Turner, who flies as Red One, said it was an honour to be on the team for the Red Arrow’s 50th display season.
“It’s a real testament to past pilots,” he said. “This is my last year as well so it’s a good way to finish. Flying is an amazing job. It’s like nothing you’ve ever done.”
The Red Arrows will be flying on July 11 at a special Red Arrows Pit Day at RIAT in Fairford.