RAFAT: In decline?

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FarnboroJohn
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RAFAT: In decline?

Post by FarnboroJohn »

A strong title but after fifty years of watching their displays, I find myself agreeing more and more with those who nominate other national aerobatic teams as the best, and I've been wondering why.

Recently I unearthed some very old slides and looking at one it was obvious some of the manoeuvres are not flown in the way they used to be, and the spectacle genuinely is less.

Vixen Break is the snitch. I used to look forward to this as a photogenic break that filled a frame fairly evenly with a dynamic burst of aeroplanes. Now its a wide flat let-down.

Do other aspects of the display similarly fail inspection?

1. Red Arrows Vixen Break Farnborough International Airshow, September 1978: HS (Folland) Gnat T1

ImageRed_Arrows_Vixen_Break_Gnat by John Dixon, on Flickr

2. Red Arrows Vixen Break Dunsfold Wings and Wheels 2018: BAe (HS) Hawk T1

ImageRed_Arrows_Vixen_Break_Hawk by John Dixon, on Flickr

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CJS
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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by CJS »

I never saw them fly with the Gnat, but to me the VB is a pretty cool thing to see, especially if you're head on to it.

I know that many people consider other European aerobatic teams to be stronger or more exciting than the RAFAT but I disagree. Granted, their display may not have changed much since I've been regularly attending airshows (11 years) but then who's has?

Many people cite Il Frecce as the ones to aspire to (in Europe) but TBH I've always thought the Reds fly their display more tightly and perhaps technically more accurately then the Italians.

My suspicion is that many of those who are negative towards the RAFAT are that way in a 'familiarity breeds contempt' kind of way - for sure we would miss them if they were gone. Of course, if you attend multiple airshows each year the chances are you will see them at perhaps 75/80% of those shows, so the saturation of them hardly helps.

I can't compare them to anything pre-2007 (other than seeing bits of their displays over Dunsfold and the occasional coincidental viewing) but to me they remain one of the top teams in Europe - I would put them on a par with the PdF and the Patrouille Suisse as the 3 best teams in Europe currently.

Having reviewed my opinion over recent weeks however, I would do something about the commentary - not to the silly extent that the Spanish or Italians do, but maybe with a bit more 'oomph!'
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boff180
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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by boff180 »

Tbh what you’re comparing in those photos is the impact of regulatory changes over the years on angles, altitudes and distances, not the display prowess of the team.etc

They can only do what British regulations, and their aircraft, will allow.

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by FarnboroJohn »

boff180 wrote:Tbh what you’re comparing in those photos is the impact of regulatory changes over the years on angles, altitudes and distances, not the display prowess of the team.etc

They can only do what British regulations, and their aircraft, will allow.


What the aircraft will allow, yes of course, laws of physics and all that.

And I agree that they break further away from the crowd than they used to. (But my lens is longer so that doesn't really matter).

However, Vixen Break involves all the aircraft diverging from each other (safe) and not only that but the more, and earlier, a vertical component comes in the less they have momentum towards the crowd (safe). I'm therefore at a loss to understand why they keep the central aircraft pointed at the crowd (less safe, and requiring a harder pull later - also less safe) until the outermost ones are so far away on each side that there is no chance of a decent break photo. This in an era where inward breaks (and I know there is fore and aft separation on those) are routine....

The overall shape and development of the break is wrong. Curing it can't be beyond the wit of man, surely? All that is required is an earlier initiation of the upward part of the formation break.

I suspect that the trouble is short term memory in the team: they may look at last year, or the last three years, but who in the organisation looks back forty years and asks whether they've lost something?

Victor 23
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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by Victor 23 »

A bit of a drift here, but it's a sad decline of UK Airshows around the country that have set this in concrete. Gone are the days of the RAF Lightning Aerobatic teams & Hunters, with the airforce shrinking it's going to be a thing of the past.

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by ArabJazzie »

Its been a fair while since ive been to an airshow, and even longer since i stood and watched them start to finish. The OPs pictures go some way to prove its the same thing every year, and to watch that 4 or 5 times a year in my hayday was far too much.

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Tmyers123
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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by Tmyers123 »

ArabJazzie wrote:Its been a fair while since I've been to an airshow, and even longer since i stood and watched them start to finish. The OPs pictures go some way to prove its the same thing every year, and to watch that 4 or 5 times a year in my hayday was far too much.

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I never thought I’d see anyone say such a thing on an aviation forum. :shock:

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by toom317 »

What about the Bomb Burst, that used to finish their display. Last time I saw it was the early 80's. I suspect the name wasn't PC and may have become the Parasol Break. Nothing like 9 aircraft climbing in a loop, and diving and breaking all ways at the top of it. Blue sky with white smoke, underexposed. Great photo op. Got it by accident in 1980 at Farnborough, but one of the aircraft had gotten out the frame and I seem to remember the following 3-4 years trying to get it, but the maneuver just seemed to disappear from their show.
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The Baron
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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by The Baron »

No display team changes their display much between seasons. I think the Red Arrows change two or three manoevres every year. They are still good, they're precise, tight and very professional but, and I've said this before, they're let down by a typically British stiff-upper-lip, professional and boring commentary. That's what the likes of Il Frecce Tricolori and Patrouille de France have over RAFAT. If they livened up the commentary they'd be back at the top of teams in no time.
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st24
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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by st24 »

toom317 wrote:What about the Bomb Burst, that used to finish their display. Last time I saw it was the early 80's. I suspect the name wasn't PC and may have become the Parasol Break. Nothing like 9 aircraft climbing in a loop, and diving and breaking all ways at the top of it. Blue sky with white smoke, underexposed. Great photo op. Got it by accident in 1980 at Farnborough, but one of the aircraft had gotten out the frame and I seem to remember the following 3-4 years trying to get it, but the maneuver just seemed to disappear from their show.

As far as I recall it was always the parasol break; bomb burst was an Italian term. I agree, it's THE way to end a show- I hate that 7/2 finale, annoying that they do still fly it but only as a fancy break into the circuit though they now call it the spaghetti break.
That first shot troubles me--the Vixen break has always been a crowd on break but that has a climbing element. I'm wondering if it was a 3/4 split (1978 the team flew a 7 ship due to a fatal pre season crash)
Hers the manoeuvre at its best also showing how low they were, dodging the yacht masts, which they managed to do until 1980!!
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pb643
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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by pb643 »

st24 wrote:
toom317 wrote:What about the Bomb Burst, that used to finish their display. Last time I saw it was the early 80's. I suspect the name wasn't PC and may have become the Parasol Break. Nothing like 9 aircraft climbing in a loop, and diving and breaking all ways at the top of it. Blue sky with white smoke, underexposed. Great photo op. Got it by accident in 1980 at Farnborough, but one of the aircraft had gotten out the frame and I seem to remember the following 3-4 years trying to get it, but the maneuver just seemed to disappear from their show.

As far as I recall it was always the parasol break; bomb burst was an Italian term. I agree, it's THE way to end a show- I hate that 7/2 finale, annoying that they do still fly it but only as a fancy break into the circuit though they now call it the spaghetti break.
That first shot troubles me--the Vixen break has always been a crowd on break but that has a climbing element. I'm wondering if it was a 3/4 split (1978 the team flew a 7 ship due to a fatal pre season crash)
Hers the manoeuvre at its best also showing how low they were, dodging the yacht masts, which they managed to do until 1980!!
[youtube]https://youtu.be/JUOcFqhZ_E0[/youtube]


They still do it routinely, unfortunately it is only on at Scampton, not in front of an audience. A great shame on my opinion.

I have to agree, I think the display has lacked something for the last 5-6 years.

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by Finningley Boy »

I might be something of a rare beast, as a four year old, I remember seeing the Red Arrows in their debut year in 1965, at Church Fenton. I couldn't really judge them at the time but I do recall them holding everyone's attention, including one moment where everybody seemed to duck! However, I do have a more appreciable memory of the Red Arrows from about a couple of years later over Prestwick, 1967. As a family we set off early from the event as the weather had worsened, it hadn't been good throughout, waking back through neighbouring houses, someone shouted out 'there they are' and in the distance, seven littler red Gnats racing in Big Seven toward the airfield. We continued walking toward the Bus stop, and while I'm sure it couldn't genuinely have been the case, as the team continuously split and re-group they raced through the gaps in the semi-detached houses leaving a trail of smoke which quickly evaporated. A few years later, Church Fenton again, 1973, they arrived in the morning and the formation split and fanned out across the airfield, including the public enclosure. As I turned, the nose light of one was closing in, quickly. The jet appeared to be racing toward me, face to face. As I tried to stand my ground, but ducked throwing myself on the grass, the jets screeched in all directions. Everyone got a coat of a coloured die in the smoke and yours truly was laid low for the next couple of days with a touch of 'gasteurentiritis'. They certainly were less restrained and never failed to impress.

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by Marathon Milkshake »

The most obvious thing wrong with the Sparrows is that they are taken for granted, if and its a big if, they had to sit out a season without doing a single display they would be missed, but boy would they get a big thumbs up on their return!
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Dan O'Hagan
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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by Dan O'Hagan »

The Baron wrote:No display team changes their display much between seasons. I think the Red Arrows change two or three manoevres every year. They are still good, they're precise, tight and very professional but, and I've said this before, they're let down by a typically British stiff-upper-lip, professional and boring commentary. That's what the likes of Il Frecce Tricolori and Patrouille de France have over RAFAT. If they livened up the commentary they'd be back at the top of teams in no time.


This.

The dreadful, twee "Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls" commentary was old-fashioned 25 years ago. Mike "No-one enjoys being Lingy more than Lingy" Ling dragged it down to new lows. The lack of showmanship and craft in the commentary is dull for the listener, as is the lack of choreography and music. Look how Europe's best teams - the Frecce and Patrouille de France - incorporate music. The Thunderbirds mask a lot of their shortcomings with a banging soundtrack too.

This, and the fact that the Reds are terrified of their own shadows these days and remain the only team to boast about being on-time means that they've slipped way down the pecking order of national teams.

That abysmal corporate font does them no favours either.

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by Stagger2 »

Yeah! But aside from that....

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by aviodromefriend »

Dan O'Hagan wrote:The dreadful, twee "Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls" commentary was old-fashioned 25 years ago. Mike "No-one enjoys being Lingy more than Lingy" Ling dragged it down to new lows.
At least he was talking every time he did the commentary. In the past there were times the commentary was a cassette tape.
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ericbee123
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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by ericbee123 »

They do the “bomb burst” or Parasol Break or whatever, when the weather is nice and clear when they break into left and right circuits to land at Blackpool.

I’ve always thought, when directly underneath, how much better it is to see a diamond 9 loop and break than anything they do in their routine.

I always assumed they do this break at any “away” airport if the weather is nice enough.


Also.
My Gnat anecdote is that when The Red Arrows were at Blackpool Airport in the early 70s, my earliest memory is sitting staring at a Gnat “headlight” coming straight towards me and seeing “the silver spike” at the front getting nearer and nearer. I ducked. I swear he had to pull up to clear the airport fence and the look on the faces of the people on the second floor of the pub opposite the fence said to me ( at my early age ) that they too thought it was coming through the window and “how did it clear the roof?”

Awesome in the old days.
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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by Mike »

ericbee123 wrote:They do the “bomb burst” or Parasol Break or whatever, when the weather is nice and clear when they break into left and right circuits to land at Blackpool.

That's a different manouvre entirely, the 'Spaghetti Break' referred to above.

XL189
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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by XL189 »

Perhaps a better comparison photograph would be a Vixen break at somewhere other than Dunsfold where the Sparrows can only perform their "flat" dispaly.

Image here:

https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-vixen ... 77890.html

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by melvyn hiscock »

[quote="XL189"]Perhaps a better comparison photograph would be a Vixen break at somewhere other than Dunsfold where the Sparrows can only perform their "flat" dispaly.

Not quite flat, but rolling.

But it is a good point.

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by Reds Rolling »

toom317 wrote:What about the Bomb Burst, that used to finish their display. Last time I saw it was the early 80's. I suspect the name wasn't PC and may have become the Parasol Break. Nothing like 9 aircraft climbing in a loop, and diving and breaking all ways at the top of it. Blue sky with white smoke, underexposed. Great photo op. Got it by accident in 1980 at Farnborough, but one of the aircraft had gotten out the frame and I seem to remember the following 3-4 years trying to get it, but the maneuver just seemed to disappear from their show.

I guess the seven ship loop and break in displays they do now is so that they don't end up with two aircraft heading towards the crowd, and that synchro can be lining up for their next move without there being a big gap in the display. Same with the ending Vixen break nowadays; it seems to be 'safe' and comes straight after the final synchro pass.

The nine ship 'bomb burst' can only now be seen over an airfield they're located at when they're returning from a display elsewhere (subject to favourable weather). I've been lucky enough to witness it first hand this weekend at Bournemouth when they returned from their Thursday evening display over the beach. :rock:

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by Unknown74 »

Watching them on Saturday over Ayr and I thought they were as excellent as always.

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by jalfrezi »

I don't see much difference between the photos, just the position of the photographer in relation to the break. The first shot looks like they used to break almost above the crowd, unfortunately current rules now prohibit this.

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by Finningley Boy »

jalfrezi wrote:I don't see much difference between the photos, just the position of the photographer in relation to the break. The first shot looks like they used to break almost above the crowd, unfortunately current rules now prohibit this.

Indeed Jalfrezi, I think we've all had enough of rules! High time we deregulated the Reds so they can go back some real aerobatting, flying down the aisles of Tescoes and what not!

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Re: RAFAT: In decline?

Post by jalfrezi »

Finningley Boy wrote:
jalfrezi wrote:I don't see much difference between the photos, just the position of the photographer in relation to the break. The first shot looks like they used to break almost above the crowd, unfortunately current rules now prohibit this.

Indeed Jalfrezi, I think we've all had enough of rules! High time we deregulated the Reds so they can go back some real aerobatting, flying down the aisles of Tescoes and what not!

FB


Exactly, what's wrong with knife edge passes down the local High Street, I mean what could possibly go wrong?

Tescoes? Is that a new supermarket chain? :wink:

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