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Blue Angels versus Red Arrows


Blue Angels versus Red Arrows
Blue Angel: F/A-18 Hornet
“Efficient and reliable communications are important for the Blue Angels,” says Kyetta Penn, aviation electronics technician for the Blue Angels. “It is vital that they are able to talk to each other during a display and also to the ground staff so we know what’s happenings.”
GPS is also absolutely vital so that their location can be pinpointed, while radar enables the pilots to see exactly what is going on around them. “They can make sure they are clear to carry out their display and that there are no other aircraft in their airspace,” Penn adds.
Although every effort is made to ensure the pilot’s safety, things can go wrong. Recently, part of Mark Tedrow’s F/A-18 became detached mid-flight, calling into question the lifespan of these ageing fi ghter jets. He explains exactly what happened: “I was in a high-g rendezvous with the diamond to execute the ‘the line of our swoop’ manoeuvre which is when part of my wing became detached,” he recalls. “This is why we take seven planes to each show; I was able to land my F/A-18, jump into the spare and complete the performance.” The show must go on!

Blue Angels versus Red Arrows

Red Arrow: Hawk T1
The Hawk T1 has been used by the Red Arrows since 1979 and Red 2 pilot Flt Lt Mike Bowden tells us why: “The Hawk is used by the military to train their pilots and the Red Arrows. Hawk is ultimately the same aircraft bar a few modifications,” he says. “Although it is somewhat dated, the Hawk is absolutely perfect for what we do. It handles well, especially well in formation, and doesn’t have any fancy gadgetry that could go wrong and cause unnecessary problems, which is very important considering how many shows we perform and the precision flying we need to execute.”
The Hawk was designed to be easily fixed with the majority of its physical parts interchangeable for convenience – ideal for the Red Arrows who often perform on consecutive days. Maintenance is performed under very strict controls and all procedures are thoroughly supervised and checked to ensure the jets are safe to fly.