Red Arrows

Exercise Springhawk: Red Arrows Prepare For Display Season In Greece

The team have been conducting three flights a day, five or six days a week, in preparation for the display season.

The Red Arrows are in Greece undergoing their final preparations ahead of the display season later this year. 

The aerobatic display team of the Royal Air Force are planning on a full summer of shows if COVID-19 restrictions allow.

They are being put through their paces in the Mediterranean as part of Exercise Springhawk – their spring training.

Red 4, Flight Lieutenant James Turner, has told Forces News the team has been conducting three flights a day, five or six days a week, to prepare for the summer season.

"Once we're out here [Greece], it allows us to isolate in a bubble and just get back up to the speed we need to be so we're ready for the display season," said Flt Lt Turner.

"It's the first time we've gone back into three flights a day, five days a week, and I think we're all getting a little tired but it's really good to prepare ourselves, especially when you get into the summer season where we're doing two or three displays a day over a few days over the weekend.

"It's really good to get the preparation and get us ready to display and fit as well, before we get back into it."

RAF Red Arrows are undergoing five weeks of training on Exercise Springhawk in Greece (Picture: MOD).

He explained how the team usually starts from scratch with new manoeuvres every season.

"Every year, two or three new pilots join and that means we move back down the formation. The longer you've been in the team, the further away from the lead aircraft – the boss – you are."

However, this year is slightly different.

Flt Lt Turner said: "Because of the COVID restrictions from last year, we've kept eight of the team pilots the same and just swapped Red 1, so the boss is now different."

He continued: "That allowed us to keep the same positions and learn a new input from the boss which actually helps quite a lot.

"That allowed us to have a lighter winter training season.

"We cut down the amount of flying we were doing over winter to allow more social isolation between us and the engineers and everyone else, so we slowed everything down."

The Red Arrows are hoping to be granted Public Display Authority (PDA), which is the authority to display in front of the public, by early June.

Exercise Springhawk is held annually in Greece, with the pilots making the most of the better weather conditions (Picture: MOD).

Earlier this month, Hawk jets from 736 Naval Air Squadron resumed flying after operations with the aircraft were temporarily paused following a crash in Cornwall.

The two-seater Hawk T1 is the same model of jet used by the Red Arrows. 

Flight Lt Turner told Forces News: "As soon as the chain of command were happy that we can carry on flying, we were back to the air next day and we were very happy with it.

"It's a very reliable aircraft, it's relatively old but it's absolutely perfect for what we need to do – it's like a little sports car of the sky."

The two-seater Hawk T1 is among UK aircraft to be retired over the coming years, following the Defence Command Paper's publication.