Red Arrows’ new look for 2010
The Red Arrows has unveiled its historic 2010 line-up.
The two new pilots, Flt Lt Ben Plank (left) and Flt Lt Kirsty Moore chat with new boss Sqn Ldr Ben Murphy after a training sortie. Key - Gary Parsons
November 12: At its home base of RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, unveiled its historic 2010 line-up. After 45 years, the team has welcomed its first-ever female pilot, Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Moore, who will fly as ‘Red 3’. “It’s certainly a major personal achievement for me,” she said, “just as it is for every pilot chosen for the team.”
National media interest in the Red Arrows has perhaps never been higher as a result. At a packed media event at RAF Scampton, where before only the local papers and aviation enthusiast magazines would have turned up, Kirsty knew that the next twelve months will be spend under the spotlight. “I know that outside it’s a really big deal to be the first girl, but I’ve been a pilot all my career and someone was going to do it sometime,” she said. A Lincolnshire lass of RAF parents, Kirsty was brought up in Stamford at the other end of the county to Scampton. “It’s nice to be back ‘home’”, she added; “As a child I watched the Red Arrows, so it’s great to now be a part of it.” Kirsty joined the RAF in 1998 and has front-line experience on the Tornado GR4 with XIII Squadron based at RAF Marham, serving on two tours in Iraq as part of Operation ‘Telic’.
2010’s other new team member is Flight Lieutenant Ben Plank, a former Harrier pilot from nearby RAF Cottesmore who has recently been in Afghanistan on Operation ‘Herrick’. “I was there three times in all, flying about 100 hours on missions,” he said. “Working with the heat and the dust was tough – but we were more fortunate then the guys on the ground. It was very rewarding flying as our role was to support those guys – they’d only call us in if they really needed us, so it was good to know that if you did get called in it was because someone needed your help.” It’s a million miles away from being a Red Arrow though - “I can remember being taken to an airshow when I was little and just being in awe of the Red Arrows. Without doubt, seeing them inspired me to become a fast-jet pilot, and I dreamed of one day becoming a Red Arrow. We knew that the media interest around Kirsty would be huge, but I wasn’t expecting this, I must admit! Hopefully we’ll let the flying do the talking next year.” Ben will fly as ‘Red 2’.
Also making a small piece of history is the team’s new Officer Commanding, Squadron Leader Ben Murphy, only the second team leader to graduate immediately from the team of the previous year - in 2009 Ben was ‘Red 7’ and Synchro Leader, his third year with the team. The last pilot to move from the ‘ranks’ to team leader in successive seasons was the late Ray Hanna, way back at the start of the 1966 season.
Ben knew he’d be taking over from Wing Commander Jas Hawker early this year – “I found out in March, but clearly it wasn’t announced until recently. The team knew, of course. I put it out of my mind until September and concentrated on my role as Synchro and ‘Gypo’ leader.” All being well, Ben’s time with the Red Arrows is set to be the longest unbroken stint, as Ray Hanna served five years to Ben’s potential six. “I am extremely proud to be leading such an exceptionally talented team of pilots, engineers and support staff,” he said. “This is a particularly important and exciting year for the team as we welcome Kirsty -we hope that many young men and women will be inspired by her historic achievement.
“Anyone with a fast jet background can apply – Kirsty’s not the first female to apply, but she’s the first to be shortlisted - we have a very stringent selection process, and she was selected for 2010. It doesn’t matter whether it’s male or female – we pick the best pilots for their ability and personality as they will be ambassadors for the RAF,” Ben added.
The full 2010 display team is:
RED 1, Officer Commanding and Team Leader – Sqn Ldr Ben Murphy
RED 2 – Flt Lt Ben Plank
RED 3 – Flt Lt Kirsty Moore
RED 4 – Flt Lt Dave Davies
RED 5 – Flt Lt Zane Sennett
RED 6 – Flt Lt Mike Ling
RED 7 – Flt Lt David Montenegro
RED 8 – Sqn Ldr Graham Duff
RED 9 – Flt Lt Simon Rea
RED 10 and Road Manager – Sqn Ldr Graeme Bagnall
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