Monday, 14 September 2009

It’s all about trust: the Red Arrows display at Clipper 09-10 in Hull

The start of the Clipper 09-10 round the world yacht race in Hull was spectacular. A whole weekend of events combined the race with Hull’s own Wilberforce-inspired music and arts Freedom Festival. To add to the excitement prior to the start of the race the RAF Red Arrows put on a dazzling display of teamwork and skill in the skies above Hull Marina and the Humber Quays. Hull is just 6 minutes flying time from their home base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. A superbly informative on the ground commentary was provided by their road manager, ‘Red 10’ Squadron Leader Graeme Bagnall, and the commands from the lead pilots were also relayed to the crowd. The most striking piece of commentary was that which explained just how the pilots manage to fly so close to each other and hold formation through their aerobatic manoeuvres. Red 10 simply said: ‘it is all down to trust.’

During the display when flying in full formation the pilots of Red’s 2-9 keep their eyes fixed on the leader,  Wing Commander Jas Hawker, flying Red One. (From next year this spot will be flown by Squadron Leader Ben Murphy, currently Red 6.) All their experience and winter training means that by doing this they can keep formation and execute the intricacies of the various sequences. When Red One calls the whole team acts simultaneously on his command. The team trust the leader.  All eyes are fixed on his aircraft. Without this trust the team could not fly safely as a coordinated unit. The following photographs give you an impression of what this trust looks like in practice. It is simply awe-inspiring. The pilots trust in the professionalism of their ground crews too, whose vital job it is to keep each of the Hawk aircraft on the top line. And of course they trust in their own skill and confidence as the ‘creme de la creme’ of the RAF’s fast jet frontline pilots. There is no room for pilot error or mechanical failure when flying wingtip to wingtip a few feet apart at a couple of hundred miles per hour. And it is Red One who brings this all together in the air.

red arrows trust in leader copy

red arrows close formation enid copy red arrows all banking in formation copy

red arrows enid banking with smoke on copy

red arrows in close formation

solo red arrow copy

It is small wonder that the Psalms speak so often about trust.  What is true in the air is no less true on the ground. Trust in God is vital and essential if we are to achieve anything worthwhile together. We put our lives in God’s hands and trust that God knows what God is doing. It is when we divert our gaze that trouble begins.

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