Formation flying and aerobatics have always been a
prominent part of pilot training and the Royal Air Force has long recognised
the value of display flying for prestige and recruiting purposes.
Over the years, many, many Squadrons, Flying
Schools, Colleges and other units have formed aerobatic teams, since the very
beginning of the RAF itself. Some of them were kept quite busy and became
internationally famous, while others perhaps only performed a few
at-home shows. But each of them played their part in building the
rich heritage of Royal Air Force aerobatic teams.
These teams basically existed on a
year-by-year basis, under ever-increasing pressure due to operational
requirements and cost saving exercises. But in 1965, one team was specifically
formed as the official team to represent the whole of the RAF : The world
famous Red Arrows.
Following this, all those other teams were
eventually disbanded - although there were still a few that sprung up on
occasion. But the present day role of the Red Arrows is more than just prestige
and recruitment, as they act as ambassadors for the UK at home and abroad,
supporting British Industry, assisting in diplomacy and promoting the
best of British. Yet their skill and professionalism, along with all the
formations and manoeuvres they perform, can trace their roots right back
through all the preceding Royal Air Force aerobatic teams.
Our display features many display teams,
utilising many different aircraft, formed by various units of the Royal Air
Force during its first 100 years. In fact, there have been that many, it would
be almost impossible to represent them all - if you want to see just how
many, we recommend you check out the book
"The History of RAF Aerobatic Teams from 1920", written by one
of our own SIG members, David Watkins.
Although a great deal
has been made of the fact that 2018 was the 100th anniversary of the RAF, it
should not be overlooked that both the Finnish and the Polish Air Force also
celebrated their centenaries in the same year. We set aside a corner of our
display stand to commemorate those anniversaries too, with a small tribute to
some of their aerobatic teams.
And.... As you can
see by our own special commemorative logo on the display, we also celebrated
the 25th Anniversary of the Aerobatic Display Teams SIG in 2018 too
The display was presented on an area of
approximately 18 feet x 4 feet (5.8m x 1.2m) of table space, in a "two tier"
There are a total of 94 models on the whole display, mostly in
1/72nd scale, with a few in 1/48th and 1/32nd. They were built by 10 of our
members - including one of our long-standing members who sadly passed away just
a few weeks prior to the show.