Red 9 – Final season with the Red Arrows world famous aerobatic display team
In September of this year I was invited down to RAF Scampton to spend a day with the Red Arrows on one of their training days, my mission brief for the day was to capture a day in the Life of Red 9 flight lieutenant Zane Sennet who is time with the Red Arrows is coming to an end after 3 successful seasons with the Team. At the end of this season Zane will be leaving RAF to join the Australian airforce where he will fly the F18 Hornet, a huge loss for the RAF and the country to lose such an experienced pilot but a huge gain for the ozzies. Zane I wish all the best for the future in your new job and country.
Upon my arrival at RAF Scampton I was met at the guard gate by Red 9 in his car, when Zane asked me to follow him in my car I could not keep the smile of my face, I think my formation driving was worthy of any red that afternoon. To be honest the smile did not leave my face for the rest of the day, spending the day with Red Arrows is up pretty much up there when it comes to boys and their toys.
At Red HQ I was made to feel most welcome and given little tour of the facilities, these boys and girls literally have no expense spared on them. After brief tour I was offered a nice cup of tea however I felt slightly embarrassed as the tea was made for me by the team members themselves. Whilst in the rest room the mood was relaxed and the team more than happy to chat with you, however this mood changes when it is time for the briefing. The briefing room is next to the coffee room and once you walk through the atmosphere changes dramatically, these pilots mean business. Once the briefing is over the pilots get on their flight gear and head straight for the flight line, there is no hanging around as the pilots are fined if they do not keep to timings.
Once the pilots are strapped in and their flight engineers give the all clear the shows starts, everything from now is done in formation from the taxi to the runway, the take off, the display, the landing and finally the taxi back. It is all very impressive and noisy, I am glad ear defenders were provided.
At this point I should mention that I took these images just 2 weeks after the tragic accident of Red 4 John Egging (Eggman) who’s jet crashed after a display in Brighton, therefore the team were displaying in an 8. Red 10 explained this is done both out of respect and for practical reasons. It most be hard to continue after such a loss. However since I shot these images another team member has been lost Sean Cunningham in an accident at RAF Scampton. This year has been a very hard one for the team and their families and friends who I would like to offer my condolences too.
Once the display ended I managed to get a few quick shots with Red 9 before we had to run for the debrief. The debrief follows the same format after every display, the pilots will watch a video of the display and comment on the their own performance during the video, and they will be very critical of themselves. Following the video they will then discuss each others performance, this part is fascinating to watch as each pilot will be brutally honest with the other. There is no hiding place and when you are performing on the limits of what is possible then there can not be. I learned a great deal just by sitting and watching these guys and one girl.
Too shoot the day I used the following equipment:-
Canon 5D mk II
70 – 200 f2.8 L series Lens
24- 70 f2.8 L series Lens
I edited the pictures in Light room and Photoshoop
The man portrait shot was styled and edited by Ellen Fletcher
I hope you enjoy the following images