UK Royal Air Force Red Arrows set to soar across US

A huge tour of North America by the Red Arrows – aimed at promoting the United Kingdom – got underway today. Fighter jets from the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team took off from their base at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire, UK this morning, to begin the 2,658-nautical mile journey across the North Atlantic.

This is the largest North American tour to date for the famed Red Arrows, which includes performances or flypasts at more than 20 locations across the United States and Canada.

Stretching coast to coast, audiences across America will have the unique opportunity to see the Red Arrows take flight during the team’s 11-week deployment, which is aimed at showcasing the UK at its best, and supporting trade, business and defence interests.

The aerial acrobats will kick off their United States visit with a stop in Chicago on August 14th before traveling throughout the country and ending their tour in Rapid City South Dakota on October 8th.

“I am delighted that the world-famous Red Arrows will be showcasing their extraordinary aerobatic talents across the US this summer,” said Antony Phillipson, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for North America. “For me and many other Brits, watching the Red Arrows in action is a classic summertime experience, and I look forward to the American public having a chance to enjoy their exhilarating displays. Throughout their tour, the Red Arrows will offer a front row seat to best of British innovation and engineering excellence – qualities shared by the UK’s unique array of businesses and industries, and a major reason why the US is the UK’s largest single trading partner. This will be an unparalleled opportunity to celebrate and build on the US and UK’s close and enduring relationships in business, culture, security and defence for the future.”

“Tours by the Red Arrows have always been an important role of the team – aiming to demonstrate RAF expertise, helping to highlight UK excellence across a range of sectors and celebrating close connections with friends and allies,” said Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team Wing Commander Andrew Keith. “Now that the Red Arrows have departed for North America, and with more tour locations now being released, all of us in the team hope people across the United States will be able to join us in the coming weeks and enjoy one of our displays, flypasts or events.”

It is the first time the Red Arrows have been to both Canada and the United States since 2008. With stops across the continent, in addition to the Canadian stops, the tour comprises a combination of nearly 20 aerobatic displays, several iconic flypasts and 100 separate ground engagement activities – from business receptions led by the UK’s Department for International Trade to sessions aimed at inspiring young people.

“The men and women of the Red Arrows epitomise the skill, agility, teamwork and precision of the RAF and we are relishing the opportunity to travel overseas, display in front of hundreds of thousands of people and be ambassadors for a Global Britain,” said Wing Commander Keith. “A key aim of the tour is to inspire people through safe, dynamic and visually-exciting shows. However, we have also planned dozens of ground events, where we hope to meet countless individuals and showcase the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths – the STEM subjects – in our work.”

Planning for the North American tour has spanned more than a year, and technical equipment and other resources have already been shipped to key “hub” locations in the US and Canada, in advance of the jets setting off from RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire.

“A huge amount of energy has gone into preparing for this tour, involving detailed work by specialists from across the RAF and liaising closely with colleagues from the UK’s Department for International Trade, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and partners in Canada and the United States,” said Wing Commander Keith.

The team’s Hawk jets, which cannot refuel in the air and do not have the range to make the transatlantic crossing in one sortie, will be flown via several stops, including Scotland, Iceland and Greenland, to reach Halifax – the first major location of the tour.