I’m Squadron Leader David Montenegro, Team Leader and pilot with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows. I lead nine fast-jets, performing aerobatics in displays around the world. This is my second year as Red 1, following operational tours with the Royal Air Force previously in my career, flying the Tornado aircraft. The Red Arrows are currently training hard and preparing for a busy season, which will see the team complete precision displays across the UK and overseas. We hope to inspire people through our teamwork and constant pursuit of excellence. This is my first AMA. Go for it!

Proof: http://www.raf.mod.uk/news/archive/red-1-says-ask-me-anything-09022016

EDIT: Hey reddit that was great fun with some brilliant questions. Look forward to doing another reddit in the very near future. For now, smoke off go.

Comments: 997 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

MrIvysaur1232 karma

Do you ever recreate the dialogue from the end of Star Wars Episode IV?

"Red Five standing by."

"Red Eleven standing by."

"Red Four standing by."

RAF_Red11395 karma

Ha! We don't but, as an aside, we're based at RAF Scampton which was where the Dambusters launched from for their famous mission in May 1943. George Lucas perhaps took some Star Wars inspiration from the Dambusters film - have a look here! http://youtu.be/lNdb03Hw18M

AdrianBlake453 karma

Oh wow! You guys are amazing.

Do you ever get sent out to just completely dick around with the Russian Bears that bee-line for us? Like instead of sending the armed jets up to escort them away, next time, 6 red arrows just circling them at stupidly close distances, and creating Union Jacks in front of them..... I mean... Union Jacks when the cameras are looking, and maybe a giant smoke cock and balls in their path when they aren't.

Actually if this isnt what happens you need to rectify that now.

RAF_Red1415 karma

Our Typhoon force does a great job securing our skies, we will leave the intercepts to them.

kevinlj293 karma

Hi David. You had a great first display season as Red 1, although hampered by the weather. Do you feel more relaxed as Red 1 going into your second year, or do you feel the additional pressure of now having to meet / exceed the display you choreographed last year?

RAF_Red1306 karma

Best question so far! I don't feel any additional pressure going into my second year as Red 1 but we have changed the show choreography in order give the spectator a new experience every year. We hope you enjoy the 2016 show.

Jip35279 karma

Hi David,

I'm currently applying for a job in the RAF as an aircraft avionics technician. Do you know the technicians that service your aircraft and all of the other team members?

I live in Lincolnshire and often see RAF planes flying from the stations nearby, it's awe inspiring and I love the Red Arrows, thanks for doing what you do

RAF_Red1401 karma

The Red Arrows support staff are known as The Blues (they wear blue coveralls as opposed to the pilots' red ones). The Blues showcase a variety of the ground trades within the Royal Air Force and, as a relatively small team of 120 personnel, we are close knit. We work closely with all of the Blues on a day-to-day basis and value immensely the hard work they put in to ensure the team's success

bothbarellz219 karma

Could you really destroy the death star by just shooting a laser down that hole in it ?

RAF_Red1797 karma

We would not recommend a laser for this task, but instead utilise the force of a Proton Torpedo.

MumblingHobo192 karma

This is gold leader, do you copy?

RAF_Red1301 karma

Loud and clear Gold Leader.

burtonmadness169 karma

Which Tornado variant did you fly?

RAF_Red1242 karma

I flew the Tornado F3 and enjoyed it immensely. It has now been replaced by the Typhoon which continues to secure our skies 24/7.

SublicianBridge94 karma

Any quirks of the Tornado that you loved/hated whilst flying?

RAF_Red1165 karma

The Tornado F3 was very good at what it was designed to be, an interceptor - she was very fast! The Tornado GR4 is still going strong within the Royal Air Force and is able to deliver a vast array of weapons and has been continuously deployed on operations around the world for over a decade

gmfreak1991163 karma

How does it feel to be in the cockpit when breaking the sound barrier?

RAF_Red1271 karma

I broke the sound barrier numerous times in the Tornado F3 and the transition was very smooth - just a small nudge was felt as we went through M1.0

flrachael140 karma

Hi David! Why do you think what you do is important? I'm not trying to be cheeky, but you're an advanced pilot that could be leading missions to help with national security yet you choose to be an exhibition flyer, essentially to entertain the masses. I love watching air shows and I've always been curious as to why a pilot would choose that path. edit: a word

RAF_Red1350 karma

With much of the RAF's hard work being achieved out-of-sight to the general public, the Red Arrows provide a perfect platform to communicate to you all. Not only do we represent our highly skilled service colleagues, but when flying further afield, we represent all UK national interests, in defence and industry. The most fulfilling part of being a Red Arrow is engaging with the UK's young people by providing a tangible demonstration of what teamwork can achieve.

Frentis110 karma

Hello David

What would be something unexpected that the Red Arrows do? Be it preparation, little individual things, rituals, what have you.

Thanks for doing the AMA!

RAF_Red1219 karma

When we brief and debrief our performances, we refer to each other only by Red Arrows number. This enables us to be non-personal when communicating direct analysis and maintains a professional environment. As soon as we leave the debrief room we are back to first name terms.

TheFamousArchieSlap101 karma

Hi David, I am soon to apply to be a pilot in the RAF. I understand that pilot is a popular position. I already know the basic information from the RAF website, but is there any advice you could give me involving the recruitment process? Is it challenging? Becoming a pilot in the RAF would be my dream career!

RAF_Red1223 karma

I can honestly say that it is a amazing career. To help you in the interview have a good knowledge of current affairs and have an appreciation of the work that the RAF does around the world. It is a challenging process - it took me two attempts so don't give up!

kibblznbitz97 karma

Would you rather fly 1 horse sized duck, or try to coordinate a flight with 100 duck sized horses?

You may or may not be allowed to tie little itty bitty balloons to the duck sized horses.

RAF_Red1101 karma

Haven't got a duck - but look out for a goose and a swan in this year's show!

SublicianBridge86 karma

Hi David, Thanks for taking the time to do this. Can you provide any insight as to the selection process for the Red Arrows and how often the roster changes? Thanks.

RAF_Red1146 karma

We recruit 2 or 3 new team pilots every year. Applicants to join the team must have a minimum of 1500 flying hours and have completed at least one front line tour. We shortlist around 9 individuals and complete a 6 day selection process, consisting of a flying test, formal interviews and peer group assessment.

rogerrabbitrocks84 karma

What are your thoughts on the F-35?

RAF_Red1139 karma

To establish control of the air in the forseeable future, the F35 is a game-changer. The Royal Air Force is extremely excited about bringing the platform into operational service.

AmaziaTheAmazing70 karma

What's your favorite arerobatic move you've ever performed?

RAF_Red1118 karma

Flying the Heart will always be my favourite.

FatBoy32365 karma

Currently live in Lincoln... is there a practice schedule anywhere? Would be cool to pop up to the Scampton area and have a watch.

RAF_Red170 karma

We practice almost every day during the autumn and winter months at RAF Scampton, flying several times a day Monday-to-Friday. Obviously this depends on the weather and other factors. So, it's best keeping an eye on our website for updates.

alanjnr63 karma

Always a question that has intrigued me albeit slightly rude. Are you and your team classed as standard RAF pilots and therefore in a similar pay grade or due to the demanding tours, sponsorship and training are you in a higher grade?

RAF_Red1121 karma

All military pilots are on the same pay scales which are determined by rank. We don't get any extra!

aviator1460 karma

David, what is your favorite airplane of all time?

RAF_Red1193 karma

That's an easy one - Concorde! Beauty, speed and technological achievement.

ranaadnanm58 karma

I have seen you guys perform almost every year for the past ten years at the Eastbourne Airshow (Airbourne). One thing that I've always wondered is why wouldn't certain aircraft break the sound barrier at these events even though they are very capable of doing so. Surely, a sonic boom would be a very thrilling experience for the crowd. Are there any specific regulations preventing them from doing as such? Look forward to seeing you guys again in August.

RAF_Red1108 karma

There are indeed regulations regarding going supersonic. Aircraft can only do so 10 miles off the coast. Approval to go supersonic over land will only be granted in certain specific operational circumstances.

rogerrabbitrocks49 karma

Red Arrows vs Blue Angels, who wins? ;)

RAF_Red1108 karma

We never compete in formation aerobatics as our shows are vastly different, but I will leave this judgement for the spectator to decide.

ChiefPaprika47 karma

Do you ever wish you could trade flying a Tornado for flying other aircraft such as Super Hornets or Eagles?

RAF_Red1119 karma

The Tornado was a great aircraft to fly, but I would love to fly as many fighter aircraft as possible. I would love to land a Super Hornet onto a ship, and look forward to landing the F-35 onto a British aircraft carrier soon.

honeybadgerho39 karma

Do you have a call sign other than "Red 1," and if so, how did you obtain it?

RAF_Red181 karma

My nickname is Monty - as is typical to military nicknaming convention, add a 'y' to the first syllable of my surname

katapad37 karma

Hi David! I was wondering, what are the usual G-forces like during your shows? What's the most you've experienced?

RAF_Red183 karma

We can pull up to +8G in our aircraft and some of the pilots do so during our displays. Most of our 9-ship formation manoeuvres are flown at 3-4G. We undergo High-G training in a centrifuge and have to sustain 9G for 15 seconds in that!

drizzt31 karma

How the BAE Hawk performance compares against planes used by other aerobatic teams like the ones used by the Frecce Tricolori, Patrulla Aguila o Patrouille Francaise?

RAF_Red145 karma

They are all rather similar in performance as they all have similar training roles. One difference is that the Patrouille de France's jets have 2 engines

Drightiger27 karma

Would you say a Reds tour takes more of a toll on personal life compared to any other type of tour?

RAF_Red142 karma

A Reds tour is very demanding but we meticlulously plan our year to ensure a well balanced personal life, as it is definitely the key to performance success.

rogerrabbitrocks19 karma

How many years is a tour of duty with the Reds?

RAF_Red143 karma

Each of the pilots normally completes 3 display seasons with the Red Arrows. They then usually go back to frontline squadrons or to training roles

_CitationX20 karma

Hello sir, welcome to Reddit! I got to see you guys at Biggin Hill Airshow helping out last year with the RAF Air Cadets and it was truly awesome.

What sort of pilots license is required for aerobatic flying? Thanks!

RAF_Red137 karma

Biggin Hill - what a place! Red 10 is from there and I lived just down the road in Beckenham. We don't actually have a licence as such to fly military aircraft like our civilian aerobatic counterparts have. You can actually fly aerobatics on a Private Pilots' Licence with the right endorsement.

jhh289817 karma

Which airshow are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

RAF_Red138 karma

Difficult one to answer as all the 80+ displays we fly every year have their unique challenges. I particularly enjoy displaying at the regional coastal shows as we can see hundreds of thousands of spectators watching us represent our service. Also, representing the UK at some large global shows brings us a huge amount of fulfilment.

jellykid_4eva17 karma

What's your view on the privatisation of your group? (This is what we were told by our Town Council as for being the reason that there wouldn't be a read arrows display last summer)

RAF_Red168 karma

The Red Arrows have not been privatised. We are a Royal Air Force unit

rogerrabbitrocks16 karma

Do the demonstration skills / teamwork learned translate to combat and vs versa?

RAF_Red129 karma

Very much so. All Red Arrows pilots have front line experience, so the teamwork and professional ethos on the team directly represents the pursuit of excellence on operational and training squadrons. Our output might be different to normal RAF squadrons, but the way we go about our business is identical.

Findwaldo17916 karma

Can I have a job? :D

RAF_Red144 karma

What qualities would you bring to a high performance team?

GenerationWhyyy14 karma

At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a pilot?

RAF_Red142 karma

Around the age of 7. I am very lucky to have achieved my dream job.

Adamizm12 karma

How is Scampton as a camp, for technicians and lineys is there still plenty of work to do if not on the circus? And do you have a favourite posting from throughout your career?

RAF_Red118 karma

We're a close-knit team of about 120 people - whether technicians (including the Circus engineers), administrators, drivers, suppliers or pilots, each section is busy at RAF Scampton making sure the Red Arrows perform across the UK and overseas.

GroknikTheGreat11 karma

I've heard before that Canadian pilots have to have a pretty good knowledge on meteorology, to what extent is this true, and does this differ from any other countries?

RAF_Red126 karma

All professional pilots need to study meteorology in detail. We cover it during our initial training

SublicianBridge9 karma

During EFT I understand pilots are streamed to FJ, Rot or ME based on a number of factors but what would you say gave you the edge?

RAF_Red113 karma

Preparation is always the key to success. I worked really hard on making sure that I was ready to respond to all eventualities in the air which really helped my decision making on the test sorties.

ThalanirIII3 karma

What has been your favourite aircraft to fly? And what is the fastest speed you've ever traveled at?

Also, what route did you take (education wise) to becoming a fast jet pilot?

By the way the Red Arrows are amazing :D

RAF_Red16 karma

Because of the amount of students I have trained to fly in it, and the displays that I have flown with it, the Hawk is my favourite. I did Politics and Theology at degree level.

johnmk32 karma

Do you guys still train over lincoln?

I grew up there as a kid and when you guys would do your practice displays we'd all go mental if we where outside. Pretty sure one of you buzzed our playing field at one point aswell!

RAF_Red16 karma

We train at RAF Scampton just north of Lincoln. The team has a strong connection with the city and the sight of the Cathedral from the cockpit when arriving back to Scampton after a period away from base is fantastic - you realise you're home.