Senior RAF sources last night refused to comment on rumours that the iconic British aerobatic display team is scheduled to be permanently grounded and replaced with a European one as part of the British military’s merge into the European Defence Force (EDF).
However, insider sources in Brussels have confirmed off the record that there will be no place for the Red Arrows within the EDF but that experienced Arrows pilots are welcome to apply to join the new display team. The EDF aerobatic display team, it is understood, will probably be named Les Étoiles Jaune (The Yellow Stars), a direct reference to the EU flag and will number twelve planes – the same as the number of stars on the flag.
In order to comply with EU Health & Safety regulations, Les Étoiles Jaune will fly a significantly toned-down version of the Red Arrows famous display; mainly loose formation flying and banner-towing of EU themed banners intended to inspire observers on the ground. It’s been reported that the first of the giant blue and yellow banners bearing slogans such as ‘Citizens! Let’s Work Together For A Better Europe!’ have already been test-flighted using one of the display team’s Cessnas. Reports that the banners would include giant photos of prominent EU leaders have been denied however.
Under EU rules, the use of red, blue, and white smoke will be completely banned, even for displays in the European Region formerly known as the United Kingdom, as being too nationalistic. White smoke will be used when necessary but only vegetarian, non-polluting smoke canisters will be permitted.
So, if the Red Arrows are performing anywhere near you this summer, be sure to go and see them. It could be your last chance!