September 18 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, August 24, 2014
They wow crowds at events around the world, but yesterday the Red Arrows stopped off at Norwich Airport between displays.
The famous RAF acrobatics team jetted into Norwich after a show in Exeter, to prepare the planes before an appearance at Clacton Air Show
After flying in their classic diamond formation over the airport, the Red Arrows landed and the pilots hopped out.
And just after setting foot on the tarmac, they headed straight over to the fence to meet the crowds gathered to welcome them.
Among them was 9-year-old Riley Dunham, who had come with his family to try and catch a glimpse of the Red Arrows.
He said: “It’s nice to meet the pilots, they gave me a map and a sticker for the back of your car.”
Handing out maps of the crew’s fligh, Flight Lieutenant James McMillan jokingly challenged the delighted children to “find your way round with that!”
One of the elite Red Arrows team is 38-year-old Flight Lieutenant Oliver Parr, who has the Red 4 position.
He said: “The public are always fantastic everywhere we go and Norwich is no different.
“There’s always quite a crowd so we always makes sure we go over and say hello. It’s a dream job for me.”
Pilots fly with the Red Arrows for three years at a time,
And this year is a very special one in the team’s history, as they celebrate 50 years of displays.
Flt Lt Parr said: “We’ve got a full display season of 85 shows and a new tailfin on the aircraft.
The Red Arrows engineering team, known as The Blues have the task of making sure the aircraft are maintained for displays.
Nine engineers are chosen to form a team known as Circus, who are allocated to a pilot for the duration of the summer display season.
Circus 8 is 32-year-old Corporal Ross Harrison, originally from Thorpe End.
He said: “I applied to work for the Reds when I joined the Air Force, but there’s a big waiting list, quite a lot of people apply but never get it.”
The former Thorpe St Andrew High School said: “We’re a team of engineers of all different trades and we fly around to the shows to fix any problems and to keep the air craft going.”
Proud mum Karen took the opportunity to come and see her son arrive in a Red Arrow.
She said: “He always takes me round the aircraft, this year is so specials, we’ve been to a lot of air shows!
“It makes you proud to be British, it’s amazing.
“Ross saw the Red Arrows when he was about 18 months old in Jersey.
“He just dive-bombed forward because of the noise!
“Little did we know 30 years later he would be in the front seat!”
“There’s ceremonial stuff on the ground and the shows are a little bit different this year.”
It’s not the first time the Red Arrows have used Norwich as a base to carry out aircraft checks and preparations between shows.
Saxon Air, based at the airport, has looked after the team for several years.
Flight Support Manager James Palmer said there was a long history between the airport and the Red Arrows.
“Traditionally we have had a long standing relationship with them, for seven years, and so they try to come here every year, its great,” he said.
“The crowd loves to see them, as soon as the pilots get out of the aircraft they meet and greet people
“I’m very very proud. A lot of people here will have come just to be part of the day. It’s such a proud moment.”
And how do the world-famous Red Arrows relax between shows?
Waiting for them in the airport were cheese and pickle sandwiches and an episode of Bargain Hunt on the TV.
Do you have fond memories of watching the Red Arrows in Norfolk? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.