The world-famous British aerobatic team, the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows, are preparing for their biggest overseas deployment for a generation. From August to October this year, the Red Arrows will be embarking on ‘Western Hawk 19’, a programme of shows and events across 18 major cities in the US and Canada, and starting in our Nation’s capital on August 13th. As well as a full aerobatic performance at the Gatineau-Ottawa airport there will be a spectacular fly past over Parliament Hill in the morning.

The RAF Red Arrows are renowned as one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams, having performed almost 5,000 times in 57 countries since 1965. Flying nine BAE Systems Hawk fast-jets, the team showcases the excellence of the Royal Air Force and demonstrates the global reach and capability of the Service. During their North American deployment – which will be the largest to the region in a generation – the Red Arrows will help to support a range of British interests and promote trade and cooperation, as part of the United Kingdom’s prosperity agenda.

“Extensive preparations are well underway to bring the Red Arrows to Ottawa-Gatineau, where we aim to present a safe, memorable and visually-exciting formation display to new audiences,” said Wing Commander Andrew Keith, Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows. “The visit to the Canadian capital will form a big part of the Red Arrows’ largest ever tour of North America, which underlines the long-standing partnership between the United Kingdom and Canada. We hope thousands of people will get to enjoy our displays, which demonstrate teamwork, precision and excellence – both in the air and on the ground.”

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “The United Kingdom shares a longstanding and special defence relationship with both Canada and the US. Sending our world-famous RAF Red Arrows to demonstrate the best of British offers a clear indication of the UK’s global ambitions and will provide a unique opportunity to deepen our partnerships with two of our closest allies.”

What does it take to be a pilot?

The team practice for five months and up to three sorties a day, five days a week before the display season starts. To join the Red Arrows 1500hrs (minimum) fast jet flying must be achieved along with at least one operational tour. The team members, both in the air and on the ground, are selected for their openness and friendliness and this contributes strongly to their success as a team and as ambassadors for their country.

What makes the Red Arrows special?

There are many aerobatic teams, military & civilian, who have very high standards of displays, but the Red Arrows belong to an elite group that includes the Snowbirds, Blue Angels, Patrouille de France, and the Thunderbirds.   People ask, “Which is the best team?” But it’s impossible to say ! Their shows are all different and are suited to showcase the aircraft they fly.   Each of these teams are effective ambassadors for their respective military forces.   Not better – just one of a very elite clique of top teams representing their country.

The Red Arrows and the Snowbirds share one distinction – they both fly large nine-plane teams. The Snowbirds provide a remarkable aerial ballet in their lower powered Tutors, while the additional power and speed of the Hawks allows the Red Arrows a wider range of manoeuvers – both awe-inspiring in their way.

We have been fortunate here in the National Capital to have hosted several of these elite teams at our air shows over the years, and we can be certain that Red Arrows performance will be a spectacular addition to this heritage.


This year, seats are limited, so get your tickets here: