World Stamps

Great Britain stamps celebrate 60 years of the Red Arrows aerobatic team

Jun 20, 2024, 1 PM
Great Britain’s Royal Mail celebrates 60 years of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team known as the Red Arrows with a June 20 stamp issue. The stamps feature images of the Red Arrows taken at various times since the 1960s.

By David Hartwig

Great Britain’s Royal Mail commemorates 60 years of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, known as the Red Arrows, on stamps issued June 20.

Since the team’s formation in 1964, the Red Arrows have been one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams and a symbol of British excellence.

The stamps are presented in four se-tenant (side-by-side) pairs. The stamps in two pairs are valued at the first-class rate (currently £1.35), and the stamps in the remaining two pairs are denominated £2.

The first-class stamps show Ray Hanna, the team leader (Red 1) of the Red Arrows, in 1967; the diamond nine formation in 1968; a Folland Gnat aircraft from 1976; and a Gnat with several BAE Systems Hawk airplanes in 1979.

The £2 stamps show two planes performing an inverted pass in 2003 as part of a unit known as a Synchro Pair, a Vixen Break maneuver in 2007, the last flight with the Vulcan XH558 nuclear bomber in 2015, and the flyby from the 2023 coronation of King Charles III.

A souvenir sheet contains four additional gummed stamps presenting the Red Arrows flying over international landmarks. Two first-class stamps show the Red Arrows over Niagara Falls in North America and over the Akrotiri coast in Cyprus.

Two stamps denominated £2.50 (the international standard rate for letters) show the Red Arrows over Paris, France; and over the Giza pyramid complex in Egypt.

The inception of the Red Arrows can be traced back to the early 1960s when the Royal Air Force (RAF) decided to combine several existing display teams into a single unit.

The name “Red Arrows” was chosen to reflect the team’s focus on aerial precision and its association with the RAF, symbolized by the red color.

The team initially flew the Folland Gnat, a small, nimble jet trainer well-suited to aerobatic maneuvers. The Gnat remained the team’s aircraft until 1979 when it was replaced by the BAE Systems Hawk, which the team continues to use to this day.

The Red Arrows consist of nine pilots, all of whom are experienced RAF fast-jet pilots. Pilots typically serve a three-year tour, and the selection process for the team is highly competitive. The team also includes support staff, engineers and ground crew. …

The new Red Arrows stamps and related products can be ordered from Royal Mail’s website. Ordering information also is available from Royal Mail, Tallents House, 21 S. Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB, Scotland.

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