Reds' Biggin bash
Bob Franklin was at Biggin Hill for a very special birthday party
On a fabulously sunny day, the Red Arrows celebrated the fortieth anniversary of their first public UK display on 12 May at the very same venue at which they first flew in 1965. Three hundred young people from twenty-two schools and youth organisations in London and the South East joined them for a private birthday party at Biggin Hill Airport, Kent. Guest of honour at the party was HRH The Princess Royal.
"Since the Red Arrows began, our displays have been enjoyed by people of all ages, and we are incredibly grateful for their support. On this historic occasion it seemed fitting that we should invite our audience of the future to celebrate with us", said the Red Arrows' Team Leader, Squadron Leader Dicky Patounas. "I hope that our fortieth birthday party will be an experience that our guests will remember for the rest of their lives. Perhaps one of them will be inspired to become a Red Arrow of the future."
The specially-invited school pupils attending the exclusive event enjoyed a display by the Red Arrows, as well as the unique opportunity to meet the Red Arrows' pilots and have a close-up tour of their aircraft. The Royal Air Force also organised a host of other activities for the children to participate in, including RAF Regiment climbing walls, basketball and the very latest Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft simulator.
The Red Arrows were officially formed on 1 March 1965, and their first ever UK public display took place at Biggin Hill Airfield on 15 May 1965. Led by Flight Lieutenant Lee Jones, the 1965 team flew forty public displays. Attending the fortieth anniversary celebrations were two surviving members of the 1965 team; Henry Prince (Red 7) and Richard Storer (Team Manager).
Since the team's creation in 1965, the Red Arrows have flown over 3,800 displays in fifty-two countries. Today the Red Arrows are renowned throughout the world, acting as ambassadors for Great Britain when displaying overseas. During the 2005 summer display season, the Red Arrows are scheduled to perform over ninety displays in the UK and Europe.