After it was revealed that the Red Arrows would be remaining at their current home of RAF Scampton the new team pilots for the RAF centenary year have been announced.
The latest appointments to the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team will spend seven months preparing and working towards the 2018 season, which is the Service’s centenary.
The newest members of the team are Team Leader, Squadron Leader Martin Pert, Flight Lieutenants Jon Bond and David Stark, Squadron Leader Adam Collins and Wing Commander Andrew Keith.
Squadron Leader Martin Pert said: “I’m hugely proud to be leading the nine Red Arrows aircraft as the Service enters RAF100. Every member of the Royal Air Force will no doubt acknowledge the significance of being part of the Service in such a momentous year but, in some ways, it will be business as normal for the Red Arrows.
“We always strive to the highest levels of precision and excellence, so however the team assist in marking the anniversary, those watching can be assured it is befitting such a unique event and all that the celebrations honour.
“In increasingly unpredictable times, honouring 100 years of the RAF with our iconic red, white and blue trails will hopefully bring some comforting familiarity to all those celebrating with us.”
He succeeds Squadron Leader David Montenegro, whose three-year tour with the team officially finishes this month.
Squadron Leader Pert said: “During my previous tour on the team I was proud of seeing the impact the Red Arrows team had on youngsters.
“Whether it is simply taking time to wave at an airport, or engaging at the numerous science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) events the team support, I’m looking forward to engendering more ways to keep young people interested in all things flying.
“Having also seen the effect digital media has had in just the three years since I was last on the team, I will also be keen to embrace novel ways to bring the Red Arrows, and the Royal Air Force, to more people.”
Flight Lieutenant Bond said: “My dream was to become a pilot from a very young age and through a series of fortuitous opportunities it eventually became a reality.
“I used to drag my parents around to airshows across the UK when I was a boy and the Red Arrows were probably the main attraction for that. We lived next to North Weald airfield and I used to see them from the back garden whenever they were displaying there and can remember saying that’s what I wanted to do.”
Also joining the team is a new Red 10 and the first change in this position since 2011.
Squadron Leader Adam Collins said: “The Red 10 role is certainly unique and its sheer variety is what really appeals.
“I will have the opportunity to fly regularly with the team, both in the backseat during rehearsals and also as the pilot of the 10th aircraft, transiting between displays and photo-chasing formations.
“I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to give people a greater understanding of what we do, through conversation or display commentary, which will be very rewarding.”
And Wing Commander Keith said: “The Red Arrows approach the next season having completed a highly-successful 2017 campaign, which included a month-long overseas tour supporting UK interests across the Middle East and displaying to millions of people. The focus now is on detailed preparation, with careful planning and training taking place across the Squadron – both in the air and on the ground – to produce a display that will be part of the RAF100 events and activities.
“In keeping with other units and colleagues across the RAF, we hope the events planned in 2018 will commemorate, celebrate and inspire people during this special anniversary.”