A flight of Red Arrows came within two seconds of a catastrophic high-speed collision with a light aircraft being flown by an instructor and his pupil, an official report has revealed.
The near-miss happened as five Hawks from the famous RAF display team were practising a manoeuvre close to their base at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire.
The jets were flying at 356mph when an air traffic controller radioed a warning about a Cessna 152 flying ‘very close’ to them.
A report by the UK Airprox Board which investigates near misses said the lead Red Arrows pilot initially delayed a ‘vertical break’ left turn while looking out for the Cessna.
A flight of Red Arrows came within two seconds of a catastrophic high-speed collision with a light aircraft being flown by an instructor and his pupil. Pictured: The Red Arrows in action
The pilot said he adjusted his eyes to the glare of the ‘low-lying sun’ while climbing to 1,700ft with his formation behind him to avoid a mid-air collision.
He only saw the two-seater Cessna ‘slightly below’ the formation and to the left as they soared over it just before 4pm on February 7 this year.
The pilot estimated that the civilian aircraft was just 300ft beneath him, but radar records later showed that it was 500ft under his jet.
The Cessna was about 1,000ft away horizontally – only two seconds’ flying time. The near-miss