Red Arrows recruits: Three new pilots to join RAF acrobatic team

(left to right) Michael Bowden; Emmet Cox; Thomas Bould The three new pilots will serve for three years before moving back to other duties

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Three new pilots will join the RAF's Red Arrows aerobatic display team next year.

Flight Lieutenants Thomas Bould, 32, Michael Bowden, 33, and Emmet Cox, 35, will begin training later this year and start flying with the nine-strong team in 2015.

They will be based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire for three years.

Sqd Ldr Jim Turner will also be replaced by Flt Lt Dave Montenegro, who left the display team in 2011.

High fliers

Red Arrows
  • The RAF had several aerobatic display teams in the 1950s and 1960s, but decided to disband them and form a single, full-time professional team
  • The name Red Arrows was chosen to combine the appeal and expertise of two earlier teams, the Black Arrows and the Red Pelicans
  • The formal name is Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, or Rafat
  • The team originally flew Gnat jets but switched to the BAE Systems Hawk, which it still flies today

The team is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 and has performed more than 4,500 displays in 55 different countries since it was formed.

The team officially became nine-strong in 1968, after which the Red Arrows' diamond-shaped flying formation - the Diamond Nine - became its signature move.

Flt Lt Bowden, who is from Newport, Wales, and has completed two tours of Afghanistan, said: "I have always had a passion for pure flying and the Red Arrows hold the top trump card in that arena."

He said he had dreamed of joining the Red Arrows "since being a small boy".

Bradford-born Flt Lt Bould, who deployed several times to the Falklands Islands, said: "Aerobatic flying will be very different to frontline missions, but incredibly demanding and rewarding in different aspects."

Flt Lt Cox, from Auckland, New Zealand, emigrated to the UK in 2001 and joined the Royal Air Force a year later.

"It's going to take a lot of hard work and constant practice over the winter, but when the team is rewarded with the red flying suits and the right to display to the public, it will all be worth it."

The new recruits will replace out-going Red Arrows pilots Mike Child, James McMillan and Martin Pert.

Sqd Ldr Jim Turner said he had spent three years in charge of the team and wanted to spend time with his family and pursue a career as an airline pilot.

Flt Lt Dave Montenegro will start training for his new role on 7 August.

Tahnee Johnson talking to Sqd Ldr Jim Turner of the Red Arrows Sqd Ldr Jim Turner said leading the team had at times been hard work, but said he "wouldn't change it"
Flt Lt Mike Ling and Flt Lt Dave Montenegro Flt Lt Mike Ling and Flt Lt Dave Montenegro were involved in a mid-air collision over Hellenic Air Force Base in Crete in 2010
Red Arrows flying over the Sheraton hotel in Doha The team's famous vapour trails are produced by pumping diesel mixed with coloured dye into the jet exhaust of the plane

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