Red Arrows fly high in Abu Dhabi to celebrate UAE-UK ties

Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team paint the sky red, white and blue with thrilling display

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The sky above Abu Dhabi was painted red, white and blue on Tuesday afternoon as the famous Red Arrows roared overhead.

The team, which serves as the UK’s Royal Airforce Aerobatic Team, wowed crowds gathered outside the Rixos Marina Abu Dhabi hotel resort.

Spectators were treated to a spectacular display of aerobatics with the six planes pulling off a series of manoeuvres with formidable names such as The Detonator, The Python, Blowback and The Crossbow.

Wing Commander David Montenegro spoke to The National about why the illustrious team of crack pilots was in the UAE capital.

“We’re here today to reinforce and celebrate the special relationship between the UAE and the UK,” he said.

“This is part of a wider GCC tour and over the next five weeks we’ll be doing fly-pasts in different countries in the region.”

While the display was a success, it did not come without challenges as Wg Cdr Montenegro explained.

“The hotel stands at around 450 feet, it’s impressive but as a centrepoint to a flight display it’s enormous, which makes it a very unique task,” he said.

“All the manoeuvres you saw today took about four to five months to perfect. They were each practised about 50 times at least.”

Red Arrows' pilots are no strangers to the UAE, having performed an acclaimed fly-past over Expo 2020 Dubai only last year.

The group’s familiarity with the UAE was not lost on Wg Cdr Montenegro.

“We’re used to the Dubai Airshow, as it’s something we have been to many times,” he said.

“It’s very common for us to be here and in some ways it feels like coming home because we are so used to the skies here.

“We always get such a warm reception here.”

Abu Dhabi is not their only stop in the UAE. On Monday afternoon, the Red Arrows hosted a STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — workshop for students at Heriot-Watt University Dubai.

“Inspiring young people to learn more about the STEM subjects and what teamwork can achieve is a core aim of the Red Arrows,” said Tom Bould, team leader of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.

“This fantastic session in Dubai was a great way of showcasing STEM in action, highlighting how these topics are used throughout the Red Arrows’ work and using aviation to encourage more individuals to discover their future career.”

It was also confirmed that an Emirates A380 would perform a fly-past with the team in Dubai on Thursday.

Updated: November 15, 2022, 3:21 PM