UK race pilots take to the skies with world-famous RAF Aerobatic Team – the Red Arrows
What do you get when Red Bull Air Race pilots Nigel Lamb and Ben Murphy come face-to-face with the famed Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – the Red Arrows? You get the very best of the British pilots together in one hangar.
Scampton (UNITED KINGDOM) – The road to the third consecutive Red Bull Air Race stop at Ascot, United Kingdom on 13–14 August took a special turn for Britain’s top racing pilots, Nigel Lamb and Ben Murphy, in July as they visited the Royal Air Force base at Scampton, Lincolnshire, to get together – and fly – with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team known as the Red Arrows. Quite simply, it was a meeting of the best of the best.
For Murphy, who is a new member of the Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class this year, it was also a homecoming. Born and raised in the British Midlands, Murphy is a decorated former RAF pilot who served as Commanding Officer and Team Leader of the Red Arrows. Master Class pilot Lamb, meanwhile, is also a former military pilot who flew jets and helicopters with the Air Force of his native Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) before eventually relocating to Oxfordshire. He and his Breitling Racing Team have logged nearly nine seasons competing in the Red Bull Air Race, capturing the World Championship for Great Britain in 2014.
The pair had a lot to talk about with the Red Arrows pilots, including current Team Leader and Red 1, Squadron Leader David “Monty” Montenegro. “It was fantastic to be back at RAF Scampton. I suppose it’s like looking around a house you’ve previously lived in: the furniture is different, but it’s all essentially the same place it once was!” said Murphy, clearly enjoying the return after five years as a civilian. “Monty is the only pilot remaining that I flew with during my time on the team – but the ethos and the spirit is exactly as it was. It was great to experience it again.”
The pilots compared notes on the teamwork and dedication required to be the best of the best on a global stage, and they discussed the differences between the Hawk T1 jets flown by the Red Arrows in their iconic precision displays and the raceplanes that will wow Ascot again this August with low-altitude flying through 25-metre pylons.
There was also chance for the highly-skilled technicians from the Red Arrows to take a closer look at the raceplanes and discuss the engineering excellence underpinning the operations of both the RAF team and the Red Bull Air Race.
Then it was time to start the engines, with the Red Arrows taking Lamb up in a Hawk (top speed Mach 1.2) during an existing, scheduled training flight. Murphy and Lamb each then gave Montenegro a taste of the high-G action they endure in a race, where pilots pull breathtaking forces that that they must limit to 10Gs by the rules.
“Obviously, the Hawk is much faster; but the raceplane is much, much more manoeuvrable and can pull considerably more G,” Murphy noted. “For this reason, I find that the raceplane is much more demanding to fly well. Regardless, we enjoyed being in the same aircraft together on a rare chance to just fly for the love of flying.”
That passion was evident throughout the two-day session. Lamb and Murphy flew their own raceplanes – the Breitling MXS-R for Lamb and the Red Bull Air Race Extra for Murphy –alongside Montenegro’s Hawk as they soared over the lush Lincolnshire countryside. Most spectacular of all was an unprecedented formation of the raceplanes tightly flanked by the Red Arrows squadron: a heart-pounding sight that truly represented the best of Britain in two disciplines.
Montenegro said: “In one sense, there are very obvious differences between the Red Arrows and the Red Bull Air Race – one is about precision, formation aerobatics with nine fast-jets while the latter is about competition against the clock, using highly-dynamic aircraft.
“However, this rare opportunity to bring together the Red Arrows with Nigel Lamb and Ben Murphy at RAF Scampton demonstrated there are many more similarities between the two disciplines.
“Whether it’s an aerobatic display or an Air Race, each requires flying of the highest order, trust in expert teamwork on the ground and detailed preparation and training.“The biggest parallel though is how both types of flying aim to inspire people at home and overseas, through innovation and a colorful demonstration of the best of British.”
Tickets for the critical second half of the 2016 Red Bull Air Race season – including the first home race for Ben Murphy and the final home race for soon-to-retire Nigel Lamb in Ascot on 13–14 August** – are on sale now. For information on tickets and all the latest, visit www.redbullairrace.com. To download editorial content visit www.redbullairracenewsroom.com
About the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – the Red Arrows:
Flying distinctive British-built fast-jets, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, aims to enthral and inspire people with a display of speed and precision. Acknowledged as one of the world’s premier aerobatic teams, the Red Arrows showcase the excellence of the Royal Air Force and represent the United Kingdom at home and overseas. The team consists of 11 pilots, including nine who fly in the display, and more than 100 support personnel and technicians. Each of the team’s pilots has previous operational experience flying the Tornado or the Typhoon – enabling the RAF to secure the skies 365 days a year. The Red Arrows are based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire and fly the BAE Systems Hawk T1. Since formation in 1965, the team has flown more than 4,700 aerobatic displays in 56 countries, with 2016 being the Squadron’s 52nd season. Visit www.raf.mod.uk/reds for more information, like RAF Red Arrows on Facebook or follow @rafredarrows on Twitter.
About Red Bull Air Race:
Created in 2003, officially a world championship in 2005, the Red Bull Air Race celebrated its 70th race in July 2016 and is watched by millions of fans. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile, lightweight racing planes, pilots hit speeds of 370kmh while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons. In 2014, the Challenger Cup was introduced, giving new pilots the chance to develop their low-altitude flying skills. Throughout more than a decade of innovation, one thing has remained the same: the Red Bull Air Race World Championship is the ultimate motorsport series in the sky.