The weekend’s getting off to a flyer!

Red 5 Flight Lieutenant Tom Bould

Red 5 Flight Lieutenant Tom Bould - Credit: Archant

Joining the Red Arrows was always the dream of one of its newest members, who will be proudly soaring over Sidmouth this evening (Friday).

The spectacular Red Arrows pictured performing at Lyme Regis. Ref shs 8629-31-12AW. Picture: Alex Wa

The spectacular Red Arrows pictured performing at Lyme Regis. Ref shs 8629-31-12AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

All RAF pilots learn formation flying, but the type the Red Arrows demonstrate is totally different from that seen on the front line.

Their displays are all for show and they have three types to choose from – full, rolling and flat – depending on the conditions.

They have the skill to be able to ‘chop and change’ under the direction of the squadron leader.

The pilots follow his instructions rather than visual cues – making it appear as if they are moving as one. Mike will also be talking the crowd through the display.

Flight Lieutenant Tom Bould is Red 5. He joined the RAF in 2005 and has since clocked-up the 1,500 fast jet hours needed to qualify.

The Bradford-born pilot was flying Typhoon jets before he was selected for the Red Arrows. He was among some 30 to 40 annual candidates vying for a place, a handful of whom were chosen for a week-long interview process.

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Tom made the final cut and will now be part of the team for the next three years.

“It was always an aspiration to be a Red Arrow, it just seemed like it was miles away,” he said. “It was surreal to be chosen.”

The Hawk T1 aircraft the Red Arrows have used since 1979 is capable of speeds of up to Mach 1.2 – or 900 mph – inflicting up to eight ‘Gs’ on the pilot.

“The G-force is quite brutal on the body – at eight Gs your body weighs eight times what it normally does,” said Tom, 33.

The force make it difficult to stay conscious. The pilots have to tense their legs and abdomen to keep their blood flowing, all while flying a top-spec jet.

The Red Arrows are halfway through their 80-display season – and each one is better than the last.

Every flight is followed by a debrief, so Sidmouth’s is set to be an improvement on Bournemouth’s earlier in the day.

It will be the first over the town since 2006, thanks to the £15,000 cost being underwritten by the town council. Its chairman, Councillor Jeff Turner, said: “I am thrilled that Sidmouth Town Council has been able to assist in getting the Red Arrows back to display in the town.

“It is a sight and spectacle to be enjoyed by residents and holidaymakers alike, and now it is down to people to be generous and give to our collectors to ensure their return in 2016!”

Weather dependent, the Red Arrows will be wowing crowds on The Esplanade from 6.30pm this evening (Friday). Squadron leader Mike Ling will be giving a commentary throughout.

Residents are being urged to dig deep so the display can become an annual event once again. Collection buckets will be rattled throughout, and donations can also be made at https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/simon-pollentine-2

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