Sunday, July 14, 2024


Inside Formula 1's flyover of the British Grand Prix

“The meals on board are awful and the baggage allowance is extremely limited,” was the joke when asked to affix the Red Arrows for his or her legendary opening sequence on the British Grand Prix.

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team is the perfect within the business. Its trademark Diamond Nine shape, and its tight combination of manoeuvre and precision flight have been thrilling crowds since 1965.

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They put in one other good display on Sunday before the distinctive red Hawk aircraft crossed the starting line at Silverstone just before Hannah Waddingham finished singing the ultimate words of the national anthem.

The timing was perfect, as might be expected from Red Arrows pilots who’ve been practicing their maneuvers for years.

But additionally they share some similarities with the racers on the grid below, as Red 4 Lt. Ollie Suckling explained.

He tells “We work to make marginal gains, similar to in motorsport. The key to having a terrific show is to make it as perfect as possible. We have a briefing 55 minutes before the beginning and also you exit on the runway a couple of minutes before the beginning.

“We need to follow the black line on the map, but we use mental arithmetic to calculate the proper time, using timing trombones – 90-degree turns – to eliminate any timing errors.

“We have done the manoeuvres tons of of times during winter training sessions, which start in October. It is a standard misconception that we go on holiday when the season ends and go straight into training for the following season, working in smaller teams.

“We fly to Croatia and Greece because the weather is more stable there and we work to make the shows look great by flying three times a day, five days a week.”

In addition to meticulous planning, pilots are physically just like Formula One drivers in terms of the physical preparation needed to address the intense G-forces within the cockpit.

Suckling added: “I only joined the Red Arrows in 2022 and Lando Norris joined us along with his race engineer Will Joseph and trainer Jon Malvern to do some flying.

“The training we do is similar in terms of the neck exercises. It was interesting to talk to Jon about the fact that there is also an element of mental and physical training. To be in the Red Arrows, you have to have a winning attitude.”

Of course, the speed is analogous, but while Formula One drivers can reach 210mph, pilots can reach over 500mph on the Silverstone circuit and 350mph on the straight throughout the national anthem. So Suckling didn’t have much time to take all of it in.

“We don’t have much time to look out the window,” he says, “but we get a lot of messages from people saying how much they like it, and that’s the most important thing.”

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