The British Royal Air Force “Red Arrows” Aerobatic Team, led by the United States Air Force “Thunderbirds” Air Demonstration Squadron, performed a stunning display over the Big Apple on August 22, 2019, painting the New York’s skyline in red, white and blue smoke trails. Hundreds of thousands of onlookers watched as the formation of 19 aircraft flew down the Hudson River and around the Statue of Liberty in what has been called a “historic” flight.

Six F-16 Fighting Falcon jets of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Thunderbirds Delta Formation were followed in sequence by a large formation of nine Royal Air Force (RAF) Red Arrows Hawk T1s, two F-35A Lightning IIs and two F-22 Raptors during an aerial display in New York City on the morning of August 22, 2019, as the USAF detailed.

The formation of 19 aircraft approached from the north side of the city, flying over the Hudson River and along the Manhattan skyline. Upon reaching the New York Harbor, the jets turning right passing near the Statue of Liberty and then proceeded back up the rived for a second flypast. According to the RAF, the aerial parade was “the first time this combination of jets were brought together in such a way”.

The Red Arrows team leader, Squadron Leader Martin Pert, said: "To have the opportunity to fly along the Hudson in a fast-jet, with Manhattan's skyscrapers lining part of the route and so many famous landmarks as a backdrop, was a fantastic, rewarding experience. Even more exhilarating was being able to complete this flypast knowing the Thunderbirds were just ahead of us and the F-22s and F-35s tucked in behind our aircraft.”

The flypast in New York City was part of the Red Arrows’ 11-week tour of the United States and Canada, during which, a total of 25 cities will be visited. The RAF aerobatic team is set to headline the New York International Air Show on August 24-25, 2019, performing demonstrations together with their U.S. counterparts, the Thunderbirds.



The Red Arrows in formation (Credit: Farnborough Air Show 2018)

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team flew as the Red Arrows for the first time in 1965. Originally, the team flew Folland Gnat T1 jets, but in 1980, the Gnat was replaced with their current aircraft. The Hawk T1, manufactured by British aerospace company BAE Systems, is a two-seat jet used for advanced pilot training. The Red Arrows’ jets are powered by a single Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk 861 turbofan engine. The Hawk T1 is expected to remain in service with the RAF until 2030, according to forces.net. The Red Arrows are based at RAF Scampton station in Lincolnshire, UK.

The USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, known as Thunderbirds, was established in 1953. The team traded multiple types of jets, including flying the F-100C Super Sabre in 1956, with which, the Thunderbirds became the world’s first supersonic aerial demonstration team until the FAA banned all supersonic flight at air shows.

The Thunderbirds took delivery of their first F-16A in 1982. Manufactured by U.S.-based General Dynamics, the F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine supersonic multirole fighter jet. Two engine types are offered to power the jet - Pratt & Whitney F100 turbofan and General Electric F110 turbofan. The Thunderbirds are assigned to the 57th Wing and are based at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, the U.S. 



USAF Thunderbirds display (Credit: Alan Wilson, Wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0)