If you‘re interested in planes, you may have been watching Britain’s Ultimate Pilots: Inside the RAF, a BBC documentary series which goes behind the scenes with the Red Arrows and the force’s other aerial display teams.
The four-part series follows the crew of the Red Arrows as they undertake flypasts and exhibitions during the summer, including the Queen’s Birthday Flypast.
It gives an insight into the training and work of the pilots, many of who served on the front line – a factor which was important, according to Air Commodore Nigel Bradshaw:
“The documentary also allowed us to show some of our operational roles, including that of the Chinook in Afghanistan,” he says, “while the inclusion of a Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon scramble at RAF Coningsby demonstrated how we continue to secure British skies 75 years on from the Battle of Britain.”
Here are some fascinating facts we learned from the show:
The Red Arrows use 450kg of fuel per display - the Chinnok uses half that amount.
The planes reach speeds of 280 knots (322 miles per hour).
During flight, the Red Arrow pilot’s bodyweight is six times heavier than usual.
One of the most popular manoeuvres the 10 tonne Chinook undertakes is landing and taking off on it back wheel. The engine power needed to achieve this is equivalent to 11 Formula One cars!
The diameter of the Chinooks blades are 18m – the same length as an entire Apache helicopter.
The Chinook's blades are strong enough to hold two Apaches.
Apache helicopters can target an enemy from five miles away.
The Vulcan bomber weighs the same as two train carriages.
It performed with the Red Arrows for this final time this summer, ahead of its retirement, under the call sign ‘Big Big Battle’.
The Vulcan’s four engines produce 16 tonnes of thrust and it can reach speeds of 645 miles per hour.
During displays by the BBMF (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight), the Spitfire P7350 takes to the skies, reaching 400 miles per hour in a dive.
The P7350 is the oldest airworthy Spitfire in the world. Twelve thousand Spitfires were built in a factory in Birmingham in 1940 – and the P7350 is believed to have been 14th in the production line.
The Merlin and Griffon engines need an oil change after 28 hours in the air – in comparison, a car needs an oil change after 10,000 miles.
Britain’s Ultimate Pilots: Inside the RAF is available to download and stream on BBC iPlayer now.