Red Arrows

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 12th August 2010


I was in Sandwich on Thursday when I heard a familiar and lovely sound overhead - on looking up I saw the Red Arrows flying in formation (only eight of them instead of nine so maybe one had gone ahead).

In 1982 - whilst I was a Newsreader for the BBC - I was on duty one Sunday night in the Autumn.  Very few live shows took place on a Sunday so I was one of the few TV presenters on the premises.

The Red Arrows team were paying a visit and I received a call from the Press Office asking if I could pop down in between bulletins and meet with the Arrows.

This I duly did and at the end of a very pleasant and sociable half hour, the Team Leader, Squadron Leader John Blackwell,  invited me to visit the team at their relatively new base at Scampton in Lincolnshire (they'd originally had their home at Kemble near Bristol). 

From this meeting came an invitation to fly with the team.  Would anyone turn down an offer like that?  I don't know if they still do it, but in the 80's it was their custom to give a flight to a well-known person who would then write the Introduction in their brochure for the following year.  Nigel Mansell preceeded me and Torville and Dean flew the year after me.

So in 1983 I went up to Scampton in the Spring and received my 'Familiarization Flight' (just to check that you wouldn't freak out etc.) but was unable to do the flight as the weather was against us.  So I returned in the Autumn having got Ministry of Defence clearance etc and flew with the team when they did their demonstration for Family Day at their base in Scampton.  I'd had no worries at all before the flight until  John Blackwell took me into an Aircraft Hangar where I was strapped into a seat and shown how to operate the safety harness - and then  uttered the words 'If I say eject,eject,  you (expletive) well eject'.  It was only then I began to realise that what I was about to embark on actually had an element of danger.

Flying in display with the Red Arrows must rank, alongside the birth of my son and flying with the Blades (all ex RAF guys), as one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.  I shall be eternally grateful for that opportunity and for the experience, first hand, of what those magnificent men in their flying machines actually do.

From their Number One Fan - Jan. 


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