The Red Arrows’ 57th season ended in style last week, and it was one that will be remembered for years to come as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team once again proved why they are the crown jewel of the nation.
The final display of the season was staged above the HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier in Portsmouth on Wednesday, October 20, coinciding with the Prince hosting the Pacific Future Forum, a major defence, security, trade and technology summit.
It has been a season which has seen the Reds host a flypast of Wembley Stadium during the final of the European Championships, when England narrowly missed out on footballing glory against Italy in the summer.
The team flew over Silverstone for the Formula 1 British Grand Prix, they have flown to Dubai for the Expo 2020, representing the United Kingdom in the wider event, as well as hosting other high profile displays such as the G7 summit.
The team coped with challenging times during the coronavirus pandemic, and paid tribute to the NHS and key workers with an all-blue smoke trail in the slalom move after an extended break from live displays due to lockdowns.
In total, the Reds managed 37 public displays and 22 major flypasts during the 2021 season, and were notably flanked by the RAF’s new submarine-hunter aircraft, Poseidon MRA1 for the first time, for a flypast of RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland in July.
The Reds will now have a brief end-of-season break in November before returning to training ahead of next year’s events, where they are sure to dazzle once again. Read more of The Lincolnite‘s stories about the brilliant 2021 season on the Red Arrows section of our website.
The ending of the 2021 season also signals the end for two of the Red Arrows’ famous pilots, as they call time on their careers as display pilots for the famous RAF team.
Squadron Leaders Jon Bond and Steve Morris have notched up eleven years of pilot service for the Red Arrows between them, flying in Reds 6 and 9 respectively.
They have now flown their final sorties with the team, and bid an emotional farewell to the world famous Red Arrows.
Sqn Ldr Morris, originally from Sheffield, has clocked up over 400 public displays, and he said: “My seven years with the Red Arrows have been the most enjoyable years of my life.
“It’s been a busy, intense job but incredible to represent the Royal Air Force and the United Kingdom.
“To be able to be part of such a special team has been a great privilege, both in terms of the flying and also the opportunity to hopefully inspire individuals of all ages and backgrounds.”
Sqn Ldr Bond joined the RAF in 2006 and started flying the Typhoon aircraft, which he will be returning to after leaving the Red Arrows display team.
He said: “Clearly, flying at 100ft pointing at another aircraft is something I am incredibly privileged to have done during my Service career and have thoroughly enjoyed it.
“However, living and breathing the whole team ethos, in striving to achieve the goal of delivering a display season to a standard of excellence on a daily basis, is what I have enjoyed the most.
“I have been incredibly proud to wear the red suit for four years and, I certainly believe, the glow surrounding the team has grown ever brighter, even in that short period of time.
“It has been a total honour to be part of Red Arrows history in some small way and to work with such driven and capable colleagues and I wish the team the very best for the future.”
New pilots to replace Bond and Morris have already been selected, and will be announced once training for the new season gets underway, following a break in November.