RAA visit to RAFAT

The Association visit to RAF Waddington on Friday 7th July was a fantastic trip down memory lane and a really enjoyable day out with the team.

Four members of the Association attended with one corporate guest making it a very intimate visit with access to all areas, including getting to sit in on the team briefings.

We were very lucky as we not only got to see the Reds display but also the Saudi Hawks who were visiting the UK for RIAT.

The day started with a tour of the hangar by one of the groundcrew and an opportunity to sit in the ‘Hangar Queen’ XX266, one of the original Reds Hawk aircraft, incidentally one I had personally worked on 25 years previously.

This followed with a trip onto the pan for an Association photo with the pilots whilst both the Reds and Saudi Hawks were being prepared for flight. From there it was straight into the team brief then back outside to watch the see off and the jets taxi past

The Reds carried out an inter season practice display followed by the Saudi Hawks taking off to formate with the Red Arrows in one large 16 ship formation.  Both teams then left the skies over Waddington for a PR formation photo shoot over landmarks such as the Humber Bridge.

On return to base the 16 aircraft formation flew overhead with the Reds breaking to land and the Saudi Hawks going straight into their display routine in a practice for RIAT.

It was interesting to see the Red Arrows pilots closely watching the Saudi Hawks routine checking out the competition.

The day ended with Red 6, Syncro Leader James Turner giving a presentation and talk on the team and the 2023 display routine.

Highlights of the day for me were the opportunity to sit in on the briefings and witness first-hand the professionalism and planning that goes into organising a 16 ship formation flypast, with two different display teams as well as a photo chase aircraft.

I also managed to recreate a photo from when I had last seen the Saudi Hawks at Riyadh back in 1999 when the team visited and displayed in Saudi Arabia as part of the 1999 Red Arrows Far East Tour.

All in all, an absolutely cracking day out!

Chris Wilson
Managing Director | Jet Art Aviation LTD

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