PETERSON AFB — The Red Arrows soared through the sky in Colorado Springs Monday.
The Royal Air Force Aerobatic team is on a North American tour. It’s their largest visit to Canada and the United States, and the first visit to the countries in more than two decades.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to see something different like this, see these guys come in,” said Brett Bell, who is in the United States Navy Reserve and stopped by to see the Red Arrows land at Peterson Air Force Base. “I don’t think they’ve ever actually been in this state before, so it’s definitely neat to see them.”
While their message and demonstrations are similar to those of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the Red Arrows are constantly within the view of their audience.
“So, as you’re looking left as one formation disappears, another formation will turn off the right and surprise you,” said Flight Lt. Dan Lowes, pilot for Red 9. “If we’re four to five seconds between each formation being in front of you, then we count that as a fail. So, that’s where we differ ever so slightly, as that we will always have someone within five seconds in front of the crowd.”
“Most of the formations you see in the States are never going to be that big,”Bell said. “You’re not going to see 12 aircraft tucked in together. It was definitely an interesting opportunity.”
“These airplanes are nearly 45 years old,” Lowes said. “And you know, they were designed in the late ’50s, built in the ’60s and flown in our air force since the late ’60s, early ’70s. So, they are old airplanes compared to the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels who, albeit, their air frames might be quite old, the technology on those aircraft and the power that they have is much more than this.”
While the Red Arrows will not hold a demonstration in Colorado, they will be meeting with cadets at the Air Force Academy Tuesday. They’ll perform a flyover over the Academy around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.
“The size of their air force compared to ours is mind-blowing for us,” Lowes said. “So to see these young men and women being sent out into those positions to be leaders in such a big organization is inspiring.”
Until then, onlookers can enjoy the sights and sounds of the Red Arrows.
“I flew multi-engine aircraft in the Navy, and I’m actually an instructor pilot in our single-engine trainer,” Bell said. “This would kind of be an intermediate trainer right between graduating flight school and going off to your weapon system and learning how to fly. So, we have them in the Navy, they’re called GossHawks, but they’re essentially the same aircraft. So, it’s definitely neat to see them painted up in British colors and have them coming in.”