The Chairman’s Chat
By Wg Cdr David Montenegro
To every single one of our RAA members, I hope this update finds you in good spirits during such a difficult period, in every regard.
Returning to the Red Arrows, I was expecting to deal with some interesting and challenging command scenarios, but I hadn’t anticipated my first decision to be made minutes after the PM announced lock-down on the 23 April. Following my first, and rather intense, 12 weeks back at Scampton, I am extremely pleased to announce that in true RAFAT spirit, befitting of all of you who have served in challenging times during the Team’s history, the approach and response shown by our personnel has been exceptional.
After a 3 week pause in Red Arrows operations, we were tasked to get back into the air and continue, as best we could with COVID-19 control measures surrounding all of areas of work. Within the first few weeks, 11 aircraft were serviceable and we completed our first national event of the year, VE75. Willing for a good news story, the BBC placed the Red Arrows front and centre of the main programme and secured more live and online viewership for a single flypast than we have ever received.
On the 18 June, we accomplished two flypasts to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the L’Appel made by General Charles de Gaulle. Both flypasts were on the same day in formation with the Patrouille de France, over Paris and London for both President Macron and Prime Minister Johnson respectively. In true Red Arrows style, while the Swan looked seemingly graceful above the surface, underneath was a phenomenal amount of paddling to make it work – thanks to inclement weather, it was very much touch and go for the second flypast over Horse Guards. But, we made it. For this day and for the effort given in every corner of the Team in the past weeks, I was extremely proud of their achievements in support of this high-profile task.
We now work steadily toward a UK based PDA and hope to perform for the UK public in the late Summer, dependent on national circumstances.
Lots of change is around the corner for the Team. We are about to move from 22Gp to 1Gp and are planning the move from our beloved home at RAF Scampton to RAF Waddington. Still much to do in this regard, but I will keep you updated on the timing of the move.
Before we move and when conditions allow, my intent is to host a RAA event at RAF Scampton. Until then and in the meantime, on behalf of the present Team, I offer our very best wishes and our thoughts are with you all.