People in Muscat and guests at InterContinental Muscat got the chance to see the British Royal Air Force’s aerobatic air team, the Red Arrows, perform in Oman on Sunday afternoon.
Roads were packed as onlookers from all backgrounds turned up around Shatti al Qurm for the show, which is part of the Red Arrow’s international tour.
Senior British and Omani military officials and diplomats watched from the VIP lounge of the hotel as a public address announcer provided a commentary on the action.
Just after 3pm, the sudden jet sound marked the beginning of the show. The crowd looked upward to see nine jets fly from behind them out towards the sea.
They disappeared for a few moments, before coming roaring back with one act after the other for around 25 minutes. Sometimes one plane would fly by alone. Sometimes two. And other times all nine together.
The most daring act certainly was two planes flying directly towards each other, parallel to the horizon, missing each other by what seemed like inches.
Although, according to the book, the planes are always at least six feet apart.
But the most sentimental moment was probably the heart shape two planes made with their smoke pattern.
The smoke, of course is the symbolic part of the Red Arrows show, with varying instances of them leaving red, white and blue trails. In truth, the smoke actually helps the pilots perform, by measuring windspeed and the location of teammates who fly miles off in the other direction.
Indeed, precision and synchronisation is the team’s speciality. It is only with perfection that the team can pull off such acts without fault.
The team uses a Hawk T1, developed by BAE Systems, with a maximum speed of Mach 1.2 and a maximum altitude of 48,000 ft. The team has 25 acts in all, according to the 2016 display catalogue. That ranges from the ‘heart and spear’ to the ‘opposition barrel’ where two planes fly at each other, and the ‘corkscrew’, where the planes really do follow the path of the rings of a corkscrew.
The Red Arrows are seen as ambassadors for the UK and represent the Royal Air Force abroad.