Update 1206L: ENGINE START for another 9 Ship Practice
Update 1135: Pictures & Video now available at the bottom of the page (under our live twitter stream)
At 0922 this morning 9 Red Harrows Hawk Jets took off into the skies for their first practice as a full display team of 9 Jets. The hotly anticipated practice is the first time that the 2017 Display team Pilots have all flown together in a practice. The team have kept information of their first 9 Ship Practice close to their chests and without a source giving permission for us to make it public or it being found in the public domain we have been unable to give out any prior warning until the 9 Jets started their Engines around 0908L this morning.
There have been concerns that the practice would attract a crowd larger than usual something which has been very much in the Spotlight since the Shoreham Airshow Disaster. There have also been some specific problems at RAF Scampton with people standing in front of the runway in farmers fields just outside the perimeter fence while Jet have been approaching and taking off. This prompted the team Supervisor RED10 to take to social media to warn people off standing in such a dangerous place and the message was picked up my local & national Media and signs were placed on the perimeter fence in-line with the runway edges. This may have been a factor in the decision the team made not to publish details of In Season Practices last summer and until recently publishing Winter Practice Times didn’t happen regularly, although now they have started to appear we are all keen not to see them disappear again. With this in mind if you choose to visit the area to watch a Display please don’t stand on the centreline in between the warning signs, park in front of Crash Gates, park on private land or be anywhere you don’t know if you are entitled to be, also take any litter home, including food waste that attracts birds which can be fatal to aircraft and crews.
The Red Arrows have not had as much time as usual to practice this year either. They normally start practising at the end of the Summer Display season after a short break. However at the end of last season they started a tour of Asia lasting about 90 days. This delayed the start of winter practice until the beginning of 2017 compressing the time they usual have to get ready for the Summer Display Season. We are yet to see an Official Display Schedule from the team but their first public display has been announced as the Torbay Airshow on the 3rd & 4th of June. In the Spring before that happens the team move to a warmer Mediterranean climate as part of Exercise Springhawk in order to take advantage of better and more consistent weather for practising. This year they will be going to Tanagra Air Base Greece as their usual base RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus is being using for Middle East Operations against ISIS so is unable to accommodate the intensive practice schedule and sanitised airspace the Red Arrows need practice in. We believe this will happen towards the end of this month but a date for that is as illusive so far as the date for their first 9 Ship practice.
Up until now the team have practised with up to 7 Jets. During a Display the team split into several section each with their own callsign:
- Red Arrows: All 9 (In practice between 6 & 9 Aircraft)
- Enid: Reds 1 to 5 (In practice this callsign is sometimes used when an extra aircraft joins for a 6 Ship)
- Gypo: Reds 6 to 9 (In practice this can just be a 3 Ship)
- Synchro: Reds 6 & 7
Throughout winter they build up from smaller numbers of jets adopting the relevant callsigns listed above. They also transit or sometimes Practice certain things as single Jets adopting the callsigns of the Pilots for example “RED1” being the team leader and even include “RED10” the team supervisor and “RED11” as the Officer Commanding the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT) that we all know as The Red Arrows. More information about the individual Pilots can he found here including information about this years 3 new Pilots, Flight Lieutenant Toby Keeley, Flight Lieutenant Dan Lowes and Flight Lieutenant Chris Lyndon-Smith.
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Picture of the first 9 Ship Takeoff Kindly Provided by @stevej333 on Twitter.