Red Arrows promise 'exciting and different' routine for Weston Air Festival

Weston Super Mare Air ShowThe Red ArrowsPhotographer - Jon KentReporters name:Copyright -

Red Arrows Lieutenant pilot Will Cambridge described what it is like to fly with the team. - Credit: Bristol News and Media

The Red Arrows have promised an "exciting" and "different" routine for the Weston Air Festival as it makes a triumphant return this summer.

Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team pilot, Flight Lieutenant Will Cambridge spoke with the Mercury about what it means to be a part of the iconic squadron and what people can expect when they fly over the seaside later this year.

"We are really looking forward to this year, this is going to be the busiest display season since 2018 and we are ready for a Red Arrows summer season which is fantastic for everybody," Lt Cambridge said.

Red Arrows arriving over the Weston Wheel for the air show. Picture: Christopher Field.

Red Arrows flying over the Weston Wheel in 2019. - Credit: Christopher Field

"Especially for myself as this will be my first full, proper season and I'm looking forward to the seaside shows as they are special."

The Weston Air Festival will host the Red Arrows and other displays from June 25-26 for the first time since the Covid pandemic.

Will joined the team in 2018 and would ordinarily leave his role later this year but an exemption has been made for those flying during the pandemic to prolong this period and experience what it really means to be a Red Arrow.

This year, he and his fellow pilots will perform in more than 65 displays across the world and are aiming to impress.

Most Read

Speaking from a training camp in Greece, Will added: "Each year the display is different, there will be a few familiar formation shapes which our fans may recognise and there might be a few different ones as well.

"I don't want to give away any spoilers but it's going to be exciting and hopefully people will find it very entertaining.

"One of the great parts of this job is doing a display and then meeting the people, who are usually very complimentary. It is a real highlight of the job and is probably one of the things I'm most looking forward to this season."

Weston Air Festival

Weston Air Festival proceedings. - Credit: Plaster

A dream for millions growing up, Flight Lt Cambridge described his time with the Red Arrows as "the epitome" of his career but admitted it was a gruelling process to be selected.

"Everyone joining the team needs to have 1,500 'fast jet hours' - for me, I flew the Tornado GR4 before transferring over to the Typhoon and became an instructor teaching new pilots how to fly before joining the Red Arrows."

The iconic Red Arrow aircraft is a Hawk T1 capable of reaching 1,038 km/h and is often used as one of the last crafts for trainee pilots.

"Coming back to it [the Hawk T1] is straightforward but it is learning how to fly in formation [when joining the team] which takes time and that first year is a steep learning curve and probably the most difficult four to five months of flying I've had in my RAF career.

"It's a great handling aircraft, not the most powerful, but it's also pretty potent and we compare it to a little sports car and it really is perfect for formation flying."

Weston Air Festival 2018 Red Arrows

Weston Air Festival 2018 Red Arrows - Credit: Martin Pearce

The application process to join the prestigious group sees 25 - 30 pilots, with at least 10 years of experience and an "above average" flying career, whittled down to nine, who perform at 'shortlist week'.

During this week the prospective pilots will fly three times a day, and undergo a formal interview and the final flying test to assess formation flying ability.

"Don't get me wrong, it's a great experience, but that's probably the most nervous I have been in a jet." Flight Lt Cambridge recounted.

"It only lasts for three to four minutes but it feels a lot longer. There are also a lot of peer assessments as you're spending a lot of time with these people during the summer.

"[On becoming close with other members] it's not a club but there is an acknowledgement that you've been through it and done it.

"Most guys will keep in touch with their peer group and it's great to see them come together for events. Recently, I met with a pilot from the original group of 1964 and he had some fantastic stories.

"The core ethos hasn't changed though - it is humbling to be associated with these guys."

You can watch Flight Lt Cambridge and his team perform over Weston on June 26 as part of the Weston Air Festival.