Mahón.—Britain's Red Arrow team wowed the crowds on Minorca yesterday with a breathtaking display of aerial acrobatics at 850 kilometres per hour over the Port of Mahón.

The first part of the spectacle involved flying in various formations, but then in the second the aircraft split up into groups for a truly dynamic routine, said the British pilots of their exhibition peformance which had lasted a full 19 minutes.

With regard to the comparison with the Red Arrows' flying display last year, viewers noticed there were two less team members on this occasions. There were just 7 craft flying yesterday. Two pilots had died in the Red Arrows' display schedule this year and they have not been replaced. To commemorate these pilots, there will be a service in the St. George's Royal Naval Chapel. This will be followed by the dedication of a newly installed stained glass window in the chapel.

The pilots explained that the level of precision required for flying these craft is extremely high and there are no substitutes.
The remaining Red Arrow pilots began their display schedule this season after a long period of intensive training. “There's no chance of changing the members of the team,” the pilots explained. “Every year, we make some changes to the display so that there is constant variety,” one of the team said.

Frederic Pryce, Defence Attaché at the British Embassy in Madrid pointed out that the Red Arrows team is made of pilots who are serving or who have served in military action.

All of them from this team, said Pryce, have been on missions to Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Falkland Islands.
After forming part of the Red Arrows team for three years, the pilots return to their original squadrons. The pilots of the Red Arrows said yesterday that one of the key reasons for their wanting to return to the island this year was the warm welcome they received from Minorca in 2011. Last year's superb display by the team formed part of the 300th anniversary celebrations for the British-built Naval Hospital on Isla del Ray in Mahon.

To have the Red Arrows in Minorca again has been the result of the huge efforts and generosity of many people. Their performance this year was at the invitation of the Fundacion Desti as part of the 300th anniversary of Richard Kane's arrival on Minorca as the first British Governor during the period of British rule.

This year's formation was made up of seven Hawk TMk 1 aircraft, and its Team Leader, flying in Red One was Squadron Leader Jim Turner, 39, a former Jaguar fighter pilot.

Squadron Leader Mike Ling was the Red Arrows so-called “Road Manager” who was in touch with Red One every moment of the display.