Red Arrows

Blue versus Red – but which is better?

Top Gun fever has fallen across military cinema fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the UK, this has coincided with the Red Arrows' summer season of aerobatic displays commencing at air shows and events all over the country.

And over in the States, the US Navy's version of our very own arrows has begun wowing crowds too. They are called the Blue Angels.

But which display team is better … Blues or Reds?

What do they fly?

still from blues versus reds video credit MOD 09062022
The iconic Red Arrows fly Hawk T1 aircraft all over the world (picture: MOD).

The Blue Angels use an array of aircraft in their overall air displays, but the really cool Top Gun stuff is focused on the Super Hornet.

Super Hornets have a top speed of 1,190mph and can reach a maximum ceiling of 50,000 feet. 

Conversely, the Red Arrows only perform displays in their iconic Hawk T1 aircraft, also used as training aircraft for fighter pilots in the RAF.

Where do they fly?

still from blues versus reds film credit US DOD 09062022
The Blue Angels are part of the US Navy and were established in 1946 (picture: US Department of Defense).

The Blue Angels mostly perform in the US. 

They can be seen at iconic events such as the Spirit of Lt. Louis Air Show and San Francisco Fleet Week.

Excitingly, fans of the Blue Angels can see them rehearse at their Florida base every Wednesday. The pilots love to hang around and sign autographs, too.

The iconic Red Arrows perform all over the world, but in the UK, their summer season provides the best opportunities to see them in action.

Events with national significance, including jubilees and Trooping the Colour, always feature the Red Arrows.

Additionally, they can be seen in the skies above Silverstone for the British Grand Prix each year and at regional events such as the Midlands Air Show.

Are there other aerobatic display teams around the world?

still from Blue versus Red film credit US DoD 09062022
Whereas the Red Arrows are global in their appearances, the Blue Angels are more likely to exhibit in North America exclusively (picture: US Department of Defense).

Many militaries worldwide can boast a team that does something similar to the Blue Angels or Red Arrows. 

In Europe, the Patrouille de France takes to the skies in the colours of Le Tricolore, and in Italy, the Frecce Tricolori command proud legions of patriotic fans. 

The US Air Force, which some argue is a better direct comparison to the Red Arrows, has a display team called the Thunderbirds.

Based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and formed in 1953, Thunderbirds fly F-16s and take their name from a mythical creature in the stories of Indigenous North American cultures. 

Cover: US Department of Defense.